Nanny State of the Week: Michigan becomes second state to lose its mind over beer label

By   /   September 7, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

For the second time this year, a state has come to the conclusion babies and beer don’t mix.

And, yes, you shouldn’t be filling Junior’s bottle with ale, but that’s not what these states are saying.

Image via Flickr (Mike Mozart)

ENCOURAGING KIDS TO EAT OATMEAL: The label of Founders’ Breakfast Stout is illegal in the state of New Hampshire.

Michigan followed New Hampshire by banning the sale of Founders Brewery’s Oatmeal Breakfast Stout because a baby appears on the label. Note  the baby isn’t drinking beer or otherwise encouraging his fellow youngsters to engage in illegal and potentially dangerous activity — he’s just licking clean a bowl of oatmeal.

But that baby has now been thrown out with the bathwater – or with the last batch of beer, if you prefer.

The Grand Rapids-based brewery announced last week it was changing the label because state alcohol regulators took issue with the picture of a baby eating oatmeal, reported Michigan Live.

As we gear up for Stout Season, we’re also saying goodbye to a dear friend. The baby of Breakfast Stout is taking some time away from his crib after being booted from the label in our home state of Michigan. However, you’ll continue to see that familiar face in all other states within our distribution footprint – and soon,” read a note posted to the brewery’s website.

The new label features an empty bowl of oatmeal, but there’s no baby in sight. There’s also a note, apparently left behind by the little tyke, instructing curious consumers to call a phone number for more information on the missing child.

The phone number connects callers to a voicemail message, in which the babe explains he’s “currently not allowed in my home state of Michigan, so I’m hanging in the rest of the Founders distribution footprint this fall.”

It’s a funny solution to a problem caused by meddling state nannies who refuse to have a sense of humor about the beer’s label.

Michigan Liquor Control Commission rules say “an advertisement or label affixed to a container, covering, carton, or case of containers of alcoholic liquor shall not depict or make reference in any manner to minors.”

The brewery was fined $300 and had to remove all the offending bottles from its taproom last year, though the state did not pull the beer from liquor store shelves, according to Michigan Live.

After officials in New Hampshire last year threw a similar temper-tantrum over the label, a state lawmaker — who also happens to own a bar where he sells the beer from a nondescript tap without the image of the kid on it — sponsored a bill to amend the liquor code.

That bill passed but was vetoed by Gov. Maggie Hassan, who said allowing children on beer bottles wiould encourage children to start drinking.

Underage drinking can be a serious problem, and it’s understandable public officials would be concerned about it. But having a baby on a beer label is not the same as allowing beer companies to market their products to children.

What kid is going to start drinking stout anyway? It’s an acquired taste.