Gov. Newsom signs law changing the definition of beer in California

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California is updating its legal definition of beer to include varieties fermented with fruit, honey, spices or other foods under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Tuesday.

Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association, said the new law won’t change what the average consumer thinks of as beer, which is made from malted grain or a malt substitute. California brewers have already been brewing beers using fruit for flavoring, he said.

Under prior California law, using fruit in the fermentation process required a wine license, but the new law clarifies that beer brewers can use fruit and other ingredients to supplement their products, McCormick said.

The change puts California law in line with federal law, which already allows for fruit and other ingredients to be used during beer fermentation. The new law, AB205 by Assemblyman Tom Daly, will take effect next year.

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