TTB puts kabosh on Ale Industries Orange “Kush”

Orange-Shush

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.

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16 thoughts on “TTB puts kabosh on Ale Industries Orange “Kush”

  1. I’m as big a craft beer advocate as there is but I’m going to take the contrary view that the TBB was right. It’s not censorship it’s simply applying the rules.

    I think it is naive to claim that the brewery marketing really intended Kush to mean a region of Egypt. The fact of the matter is that Kush is not a modern region, it a reference to an ancient kingdom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Kush

    How can you source ingredients from an ancient kingdom?

    Furthermore, I can imagine a number of variations of the label that would make it quite clear that the reference was the ancient Kingdom. Orange Kushite, Kushite Orange, Orange Kush 1070 AD, Orange Kush, Egypt, and so on. Or change the reference to the mountain range Orange Kush Mountains.

    The resulting name, Shush, also points me to the fact that Ale Industries has good marketing. Shush and the back story is almost more powerful a brand than the original Kush. Now they can milk the media and blogs for press. Pure genius.

  2. I would hardly say they thought on their toes for “Orange Shush” as Lagunitas did the exact same thing changing from “The Kronik” to “Censored”

  3. What about Lost Cost Indica IPA and 420 Pale Ale from Sweetwater in Atlanta?Old Bongwater Hemp Porter from Kettlehouse? I’m sure there are others. This is selective enforcement does’nt the TTB have better things to do than pick on small business owners?

  4. I find it somewhat ironic that an agency that had to change its name from the ATF largely because a great number of people found them socially unacceptable is now attempting to determine what a responsible name for a beer is or isn’t.

    It isn’t up to the TTB to decide what is or isn’t “responsible industry” behavior. It isn’t up to them to decide what is “socially unacceptable”. Consumers decide by choosing what to consume.

    I hope that Ale Industries is able to milk this for everything it’s worth. Orange Kush is a great beer!

  5. So if potheads start calling their weed “torpedo”, does that mean that sierra nevada will have to change the name of their IPA in order to protect us?
    I honestly didn’t even know about the slang use for ‘kush’, and I’m sure most non-stoners didn’t either.
    And–even if I saw it at the store and knew what kush meant, it’s not like I’d think that it was a bottle of “pot beer”.

  6. It is hard to believe that drugs are not socially acceptable since you can find all kinds of drugs in every community in the United States. To me that would make them very accepted socially.

  7. OK, so maybe I am a bit old, naive, and square. But after 20 years in the Navy sampling any alcoholic product I could lay my hands on, my first free association with the name Kush was indeed the ancient kingdom, and I needed the editors note to learn the drug reference.

  8. “How can you source ingredients from an ancient kingdom?”

    Yeah, exactly!

    I have to go clean my Persian Rugs.

  9. Gee. I thought Kush was mentioned in the Bible, more than once. Will we outlaw all kazillion forms of slang words for various illicit drugs? It might eliminate every word in the English language!

  10. Yea god forbid they should change the name of Sweetwater 420 thats is some damn good locally brewed Atlanta beer. Love to have a six pack while tailgating at a Falcons or Braves game.

    MMMMM 4 days till my next beer. Too bad we don’t have any Orange Kush in the Atlanta area. Hey maybee we should change the name of Bayer asprin for their association to the Nazis in WWII. Hey how bout we just change the names of everything that may have the slightest possibility of offending someone.

    God forbid someone should name their product after an ancient kingdom of Egypt.

    Geesh what is going on in our country. We are Plagued with Political Correctness. I am sorry I do not apologize for offending the fragile sensibilities of others while holding a conversation with my friends or releasing a product.

    Instead of calling a black person a black person we are supposed to use the term of African-American when clearly that person was not born in africa nor have they ever been there. God forbid my buddy who just happens to be a naturalized citizen from South Africa should wear his “I am a Real African-American” t-shirt. Yea he did that and nearly got his head knocked off until it the other persons ignorance was presented on a silver platter and served up to him. As soon as he spoke it was apparent that that white African-American was the REAL DEAL.

    Contrary to popular belief some white people can validly call themselves African-Americans. Though my friend considers himself a non hyphenated American he wears the shirt to make a point.

    Damn I hope I didn’t offend any Blacks out there oh wait I don’t care. People just need to grow up and grow a pair suck it up and drive on take it with a grain of sale and stop wearing their hearts on their shirt sleeves.

    OUT

  11. I can’t say I give a damn if it was called “Orange Kuch” or “Liquid Whore Juice” or any other derivitave that may “OFFEND” someone. The fact is that this is a private enterprise that wanted to name their own product. The imperial federal government shut down their attempt with it’s own sense of morality. This company should be able to name their product any damned well thing they want, if it offends someones’ “Morality” well then they don’t have to buy the product…..

  12. While I do not condone any government agency deciding whether a label is “socially acceptable,” the beer was obviously named after a well-known strain of cannabis called “orange kush.” Pop into any of the hundreds of cannabis dispensaries in California (where the beer is made), and you will find “Orange Kush” available as a drug/medicine. I don’t think this labeling should be prohibited, but AI is being glib in claiming the beer was named for the Kingdom of Kush and not the semi-illegal mind-altering herb.

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