We previously reported on the new category of alcoholic beverage called the “fermented fruit beverage.” These products fall into the category of malt or brewed beverages (as long as the alcoholic content does not exceed 8.5%) and can be sold by distributors in bottles, cases, kegs, cans, or other containers of the type used for the sale of malt or brewed beverages. Our members have sent us examples of some of the new “fermented fruit beverages” which have hit the market and some of these products are similar, if not identical to, wine.

The PLCB recently issued Advisory Notice #25 to provide some clarification on these new products. The full text of the Advisory Opinion is attached for your reference. Essentially, the PLCB states the distinction between fermented fruit beverages sold as beer and similar products that are sold as wine is “the decision by the limited winery to market and distribute the products as beer and not wine.” So, the intent of the manufacturer is key. For a fermented fruit beverage to be considered a beer, it must be registered with the PLCB as beer by the manufacturer. Once a manufacturer registers a fermented fruit beverage as a beer, it cannot be sold by them or anyone else as a wine or marketed as a wine product. 
Additionally, neither the product packaging nor the marketing materials of the fermented fruit beverage may refer to the product as “wine” “wine cocktail” “wine product” or any similar name. So, while the PLCB clarified that distributors may purchase these products from PA Limited Wineries and sell them to the public, these products cannot be sold or marketed as a wine or wine substitute. We are cautioning our members to be clear in their advertisements, signage and in speaking with customers that these are “fermented fruit beverages”, “beer” or “malt or brewed beverages” and not wine products.  

Advisory Notice #25 also requires these products to be registered and approved by the PLCB prior to distribution, so the legality of a specific product should be made by the PLCB on a case-by-case basis. Our advice to members is that if the product is an approved registered product on the PLCB website, then it may be sold by a distributor as a malt or brewed beverage. 

To search for a product on the PLCB website, you can go to the PLCB Home Page, click on the tab for Licensees and select “Resources for Licensees”. You then select the box for “Search Registered Brands” and search by product or manufacturer. Click here for a link that may be helpful.. The PLCB website will provide the name of the manufacturer, wholesaler and a copy of the approved label. 

Click here to view Advisory Notice No. 25