Not satisfied with ruining the health care market, the regulators behind Obamacare have subtly set out to ruin something even more important: craft beer. Buried deep within the law that nobody bothered to read before passing is a requirement that chain restaurants list nutrition information on every beer they serve, including sugar content, calories, and carbohydrates. Why is such a regulation necessary? Apparently there’s a belief in government that the reason people drink so much beer is because they don’t know it’s bad for them. And in case you don’t already hate and fear Congress, remember that the same people who think we’ll stop drinking beer if we know how many calories it contains also have the power to declare wars.
Listing nutrition information on a menu may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Right now, the barriers to entry into the beer market have never been lower. It’s incredibly easy for anyone to brew their own beer at home and, if it’s good, sell it to a willing public. That’s why the craft beer market is such a thriving industry, with some 4,000 American breweries. The country that used to subsist wholly on Budweiser now produces a range and quality of beers that rivals Germany and Belgium, and that’s no small feat.
But when you brew a beer, you don’t just automatically know how many calories it has or how much sugar it contains. All these things have to be tested by third parties who know how to find these things out, and testing isn’t cheap. For example, the test for calories can run up to $1,000 per beer. For a major producer, that’s not much, but it’s important to remember that many craft breweries produce dozens of different beers a year. It’s a fondness for experimentation and variety that allows new brewers to distinguish themselves from brands that are already well established, so for a small brewery, those costs add up fast. The Cato Institute estimates that some companies could undergo as much as $77,000 in regulatory compliance for this rule.
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