Beer Label Battle

The Daily Beast has a fascinating profile of Kent “Battle” Martin, the government’s man at TTB who approves or rejects practically every beer label submitted to go to sale in the US. Every beer label you see has to be approved by the TTB (the same goes for wine and liquor); according to this profile, one man, Mr. Martin handles tens of thousands of them – personally:

“He’s the king of beer. His will is law,” said one lawyer who works with him regularly. The lawyer asked to remain anonymous, for fear of crossing the beer specialist. “There’s one dude in the government who gets to control a multibillion-dollar industry with almost no supervision.”

This year, Battle has singlehandedly approved over 29,500 beer labels, the only fact his press handler would provide.

While Mr. Martin’s dedicated to duty is impressive, there’s of course another side to this story:

“He’s just amazingly finicky on stupid things that don’t really achieve any government purpose,” said one brewer. “He’s implementing rules that are totally antiquated. If you do something like 30,000 [label approvals], [perhaps] it makes you feel like you are the law.”

Battle has rejected a beer label for the King of Hearts, which had a playing card image on it, because the heart implied that the beer would have a health benefit.

And the stories go on and on.