To keep a clear head you will enjoy the following story best with a cold beer - ideally brewed according to the Purity Law. It is equally surprising and without any sense.
Every story has a beginning
February, 2014 - As part of a regular sampling, the Camba Milk Stout was also tested among other Camba beers. Four months later, we received an opinion from the State Office for Health and Food Safety. In this we were told that Camba Milk Stout is not a beer for the purposes of the Provisional Beer Law (VorlBierG).
Fancy names and the protection of the term "beer"
Camba Milk Stout was called "another drink" in the report. The internationally acknowledged name “Milk Stout” was considered a "fancy name". It was also stated, however, that "Milk Stout" is a recognized traditional beer style in the English-speaking world. Therefore, by the use of the term "Stout" the consumer gets the idea that it actually is a beer. This is misleading and therefore prohibited.
Go ahead, it even gets better.
Fermented, alcoholic beverage
In the report, we were informed that this product is a beverage, for which neither a legal provision nor a normal trade description exists. Thus, we have to use a general descriptive name for the product concerned. Subsequently, we called our product a "fermented, alcoholic beverage".
Indications of milk
The word "Milk" in combination with the term "Stout", even worse, the cow pictured on the label completes the consumer misleading. Consumers might think that "milk" is in this drink - which is not the case.
Armed with these details, one imagines the question what the Camba Milk Stout is actually made of. A beer certainly not, this seemed clear.
The sale of Camba Milk Stout was officially prohibited by a chargeable notification, grace periods were not granted. That means sale of the remaining goods is not allowed – it had to be destroyed! We could not believe that our Milk Stout, which is obviously not to beer, cannot be assigned. Consequently, we wanted to leave it to professionals to assign this product to the right category.
So we made an application for a tariff survey and the classification in the Combined Nomenclature at the Federal Revenue Administration. In our view, this is - as we now know that it is no beer - "another fermented beverage, foaming (nomenclature 2206 00 39)”. Thus, our product would be described appropriately and in consequence even beer tax-free. All disputed points of the marking on the label have been changed, a "real" fancy name was needed, and the cow had to disappear. Everything which could remotely lead to beer or brewery was eliminated.
Here you find the labels in comparison.
The answer was not long in coming and was sobering:
Due to the characteristics it is a beer and is therefore covered by heading 2203 (beer) of the Combined Nomenclature. The product is a beer within the meaning of § 1 paragraph 2 no. 1 of the beer tax law.
In the attempt of finding out more facts we were told in a telephone conversation that the customs valuation and the valuation according to VorlBierG are irrelevant to each other. They are aware of the fact that this assessment leads to astonishment; nonetheless, Milk Stout is an internationally recognized beer style.
Conclusion: Camba Milk Stout must not be a beer, but it is seen as a beer for tax purposes. Accordingly we had to pay beer tax. The confusion is great.
What happens next?
We continue to look for creative ways to manufacture and distribute a beverage manufactured in Bavaria, an internationally recognized, beer taxable, non-compliant with the Purity Law beer style.
Against the background of current samples taken we wonder what happens next. Until now, each approach is missing.
We emphasize at this point that all calls made and meetings were held factually and they were very helpful to us. Just everything on the basis of regulations.Back