TTB expedites Atlas Brew Works’ Precious One keg collar in First Amendment challenge to COLA process during shutdown

The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease, but you’ve got a better chance if there’s a lawsuit in play.

Earlier today the government’s lawyers filed notice in the ongoing First Amendment lawsuit brought by Atlas Brew Works against the TTB seeking to keep the TTB from enforcing its restrictions on selling beer in interstate commerce without label approval while the TTB refused to give label approval during the government shutdown.

As we posted before here on Libation Law Blog, the case is important as it brings to light some interesting questions about the TTB’s process, especially during a shutdown where the TTB refuses to process labels for approval. The Cato institute recently published a short inquiry about the matter asking why the government is even involved in pre-sale approval as opposed to simply looking to enforce the labelling statute and regulations on an as-needed post-sale basis.

With so much on the line, it makes sense that the government might try to side-step the case by looking to moot it in approving the one label in the case that the plaintiff really focused on – Atlas’s Precious One. And it appears that’s exactly what happened. We’ve embedded the filing the government made showing they’d approved the label along with the label approval below. You can download it here (link).

What’s preferential about this is that the current wait times (updated as of this morning) as told by the TTB are 48 days for beer labels (thank’s shutdown) and the TTB reports that it’s currently on labels from December 13. Here’s a screenshot from the COLA processing page:

TTB expedited delivery as present times show labels from December 13, 2019 are being processed

TTB Processing Times as of January 29 2019

That’s an entire week’s time from the December 20, 2018 submission of the Precious One. It’s clear there was some push to get this label approved, but what’s still unknown is how this will impact the lawsuit.

As we briefly noted yesterday, there’s still the potential for a future shutdown, in which case, this issue isn’t moot, although the controversy over the Precious One’s keg collar might be. Also, the suit involved allegations of the failure to approve multiple labels, not just the Precious One, and there’s no indication that those were filed.

Indeed, dismissing this case now, just means that in three weeks’ time, someone will be able to file the exact same suit if the shutdown happens again keeping TTB from approving labels. We’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the government’s filing about the label approval from today:


Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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