Smuttynose Forced to Scuttle Granite Ghost Ale
help raise money to support the event, which was scheduled to take place in late October at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. I told him that although Smuttynose as a rule does not produce special label beers, this project sounded worthy to me. (Similarly, in 1995, Shipyard Brewing in Portland, had brewed a commemorative ale in honor of the commissioning of the USS Maine, a new Trident submarine.) We discussed the prospect of brewing a special, limited-edition ale, to be made available in the Seacoast’s local stores, bars and restaurants during the weeks leading up to the Commissioning, as well as to participants in the Commissioning ceremony itself.
Here, for the record, is the passage of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulatons) that the TTB specialist cited:
I have two concerns with this label. They are based on 27 CFR Section 7.29 (d) which prohibits on malt beverage labels the use of seals, insignias, or decorations that could be construed as associated with the armed forces. My first concern is the text “Portsmouth Naval Shipyard” as it is part of the U.S. Navy. My second concern is the seal on the label and how close it resembles the seal of the USS New Hampshire. Do you have written permission from the Department of the Navy to use the seal and text? If you do, please forward that documentation to me to review with the label application. If not, you need to contact the Navy as soon as possible to get that permission.
Given that the beer was scheduled to be brewed and the labels were due to go on press in a matter of days, we needed to act quickly. Doug contacted representatives at the Navy. After several days of back-and-forth, we received an answer from the Navy’s lawyers. In short, although they were enthusiastic about the idea of a commemorative ale and applauded our efforts, they refused to provide us with the written permission that the TTB had required for fear that it could be construed as the Navy’s endorsement of a Smuttynose product.
(d) Flags, seals, coats of arms, crests, and other insignia. Labels shall not contain, in the brand name or otherwise, any statement, design, device, or pictorial representation which the appropriate TTB officer finds relates to, or is capable of being construed as relating to, the armed forces of the United States, or the American flag, or any emblem, seal, insignia, or decoration associated with such flag or armed forces; nor shall any label contain any statement, design, device, or pictorial representation of or concerning any flag, seal, coat of arms, crest or other insignia, likely to mislead the consumer to believe that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of the government, organization, family, or individual with whom such flag, seal, coat of arms, crest, or insignia is associated.
For those of you who would have wanted to purchase a Granite Ghost Ale to support the ship’s October 25th commissioning, I recommend going to the Commissioning website to learn about other ways to support the Commissioning Committee’s efforts. With or without Granite Ghost Ale, the New Hampshire’s commissioning is going to be a terrific event, the result of the hard work of a group of dedicated people. Let’s raise a toast to them, and a toast to the Granite Ghost!