We can all recognise the front label of a beer, they're often very memorable. Some have a strong brand image, and some are beautifully designed. But, how many of you read the information on the label of your beer? And do you know the importance of what is represented on it?

The information on each label is important because, in addition to giving general product information, they must comply with official legislation

Beer labels

What must you write?

Below is the mandatory information that must be clearly visible on the label:

  • The legal name of the product, in our case: beer.
  • The legal entity, i.e. the company name of the producer, importer or distributor.
  • The net quantity must be indicated in liters (L) or one of its submultiples (for example: ml or cl).
  • Any particular storage conditions
  • The alcohol content must be marked as a percentage (for example: 5.3% alc) if it is above 1.2%
  • Any appropriate allergen information
  • As for the ingredients, if it is the classic ones (ie water, malt, hops and yeast ) it is not mandatory to insert them, but it becomes mandatory if allergens are present.
  • The deadline, a date of minimum durability, eg a ‘best before’ date

In addition, the law requires that all this information is reported in the same space on the label, so that it can be read clearly and must comply with the minimum cautionary dimensions.

Normally food and drink items are required to lists their ingredients. However, this is not required for drinks over 1.2% ABV.  Despite this, many choose to voluntarily include an energy declaration of calories, and on a per 100ml basis.

Other information, such as the style, the IBU, the colour or the recommended glass, they are all optional and at the producer’s discretion, they can decide whether to include them or not.

Marketing rules

Alocholic product packaging must not promote drinking irresponsibly or be appealing to children. 

Label for craft beer

In the case of craft beers, there may be some variations in the information indicated, which obviously deviate from the mandatory ones - which must always be entered.

The difference in information depends mainly on the destination and distribution of the beers, mainly between sale in supermarkets and distribution through niche channels. This is because, for those who know enough about craft beers, it is not necessary to specify that an imperial pils is blonde. Information that, on the other hand, could be more useful for those who buy in the supermarket.

A very important note is that the term artisanal can be used only for those beers that have been produced following the indications provided by the 2016 law:

Beer produced by a brewery that does not exceed 200,000 hectoliters per year, which is independent of other companies, and which does not filter or pasteurize beer.

The information must be clear and transparent in order not to create confusion. Something to which producers must pay close attention and seek the right balance with the marketing and aesthetic aspects which, unfortunately, sometimes prevail.

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