Feds Say Local Brewery Must Censor Itself To Reach New Markets
(Concord, CA) – For the past year, Ale Industries has been producing their flagship beer under the name “Orange Kush”. When the company wanted to expand its reach into the bottle market they needed federal label approval. After many weeks, and making many corrections to their label in order to achieve TTB compliance, in the final stages they were told they must change the name of their beer. To be more specific, they were denied label approval for this reason……
COMPLIANCE MATTERS: 94-2
“USE OF TERMS ASSOCIATED WITH DRUGS OR THE DRUG TRADE ATF, AS A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, CANNOT CONDONE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LABELS THAT CONTAIN ANY NAMES OF DRUGS, DRUG TERMS OR SLANG ASSOCIATED WITH DRUGS OR ANY DEPICTION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT RESPONSIBLE INDUSTRY MEMBERS SHOULD WANT OR WOULD WANT TO PORTRAY THEIR PRODUCTS IN ANY SOCIALLY UNACCEPTABLE MANNER.” (the TTB was formerly the ATF)
Ale Industries’ Orange Kush is wheat beer that is brewed with sweet orange peel, coriander, and chamomile. Orange Kush is not a drug, it is a deliciously refreshing wheat beer, that is hand crafted.
Ale Industries quickly responded to the TTB, letting them know that the term Kush was taken from the Egyptian region where the chamomile was sourced. The TTB responded back with a discouraging statement, that the average person would not know about the ancient regions of Egypt, and that everyone would just assume that it was a drug, or contained drugs. [Ed. Note: "Kush" also means 'A high grade strand of marijuana.']
To add insult to injury, the TTB implies that Ale Industries was being irresponsible in the naming of their beer, and that they were portraying their products in a “socially unacceptable manner”. “How long has the federal government been stepping on the first amendment, and when did they start judging what is or is not socially acceptable?”says Morgan Cox Co-founder of Ale Industries
Fighting this would be costly and delay the release of their beer, so Ale Industries thought on their toes and redesigned the label to include a black bar over the word “Kush” with contrasting white lettering reading “Shush”, effectively changing the name to Orange Shush. This label was approved on May 26th, 2010.
Ale Industries hopes to have its Orange Shush on the market by mid-July in 22oz bottles. Now with the ability to bottle, the company plans on targeting Bay Area bottle shops and restaurants that do not have the ability for draft beer.