Resource offering average nutritional info based on beer styles, which Brewers Assn started working towards based on new FDA menu labeling rules for chain restaurants, launched this week. Beer Nutrient Database provides small brewers with stats on a number of nutrients, including fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber and more, required by menu labeling rules that go in effect in May. Recall, those rules require restaurants with at least 20 locations to provide nutritional info on all regular menu items, including beer. BA repeatedly shared concerns that small brewers unable to offer extensive nutritional info (due to expensive testing) would result in chains removing or replacing their beers with others from (probably larger) brewers that could provide that info. And while FDA allows use of its own nutrient database of average stats to satisfy new rules, its limited listing of beer styles in that database cover most of US beer volume but very small amount of craft. So new Beer Nutrient Database mitigates much of the problem created by FDA rules, as viewed by BA.
Database works like this. First, it’s based exclusively on 41 of BA’s existing style guidelines. So brewers can use stats it provides only if their recipes fall within original and final gravity readings for associated styles. Further, database not recommended for beers with fruit, veggies, spices or other “unusual” additions. Unpredictability of barrel-aging means those beers shouldn’t take database’s average stats either. But for any beer brewed true to BA’s style guidelines, style-specific sheets offer average stats for most nutrients per 12, 14, 16 and 20-oz servings. Style sheet also points brewers to outside resources to help determine calories and carbohydrates based on brewers’ recipes. While experimental small brewers that pay little attention to style guidelines may need to do some extra legwork, the database clearly covers a very large swath of beers made by small US breweries. Further, recall that exemptions within FDA rules allow restaurants to bring in “seasonal items” without having nutrient info, which could provide oppy for small brewers to get specialty items on tap for limited periods of time in chain accounts affected by these rules.