No Babies on Your Beer: It's Illegal

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 04, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New Hampshire really cares about protecting babies from drinking beer.

New Hampshire recently passed a law that would allow babies to be depicted on its beer bottles. Can you believe that this was even illegal in the first place?

However, the law has been vetoed by Governor Maggie Hassan.

The Baby Behind the Ban

New Hampshire's law currently prohibits images of minors on beer bottle labels in an effort to curb underage drinking.

However, Republican state Representative Keith Murphy, who runs a tavern, wanted to sell Founders Brewery Co.'s Breakfast Stout. What's the problem? The beer's label shows a chubby baby eating oatmeal. The label violates New Hampshire's law, so the beer can't be sold in the state.

Murphy sponsored the bill so that he could import Breakfast Stout into the state.

Federal Law

Federal law actually has some pretty strict restrictions on what can and cannot be on alcohol labels and advertising. For example, alcohol labels cannot have any false or misleading statements, obscene or indecent designs, images meant to attract minors, or health claims. These regulations are enforced by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the Treasury Department.

Some past rejections may surprise you. For instance, a label for the beer King of Hearts was rejected for having a picture of the heart. The TTB claimed that the heart implied the beer may have health benefits. Another label for a beer called Pickled Santa was rejected because it showed a drunken Santa, and labels cannot advertise the physical effects of alcohol. (Although, wouldn't you want people to know that alcohol can get you drunk?)

Other State Laws

Most state, such as Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont are not as strict on alcohol labeling as New Hampshire. But, New Hampshire is not alone.

In Alabama, Cycle Gladiator's Merlot was not approved for sale in the state because of the nude lady on the wine's label. The state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board rejected the label because it had "a person posed in an immoral or sensuous manner."

So, until New Hampshire can override Governor Hassan's veto, we'll have to satisfy ourselves with boring alcohol labels. Or at least ones sans happy babies.

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