What you might not want to know about your beer, but should

WASHINGTON — Beer manufacturers aren’t required to detail nutritional information on their cans and bottles, but most of the big players are about to do so.

The Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative means beer companies signing up will voluntarily include serving facts on their products, including calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat and alcohol by volume.

Beer will get a freshness date and a list of ingredients in either a list, reference to a website with ingredient information or a QR code on the label.

Beer companies that have agreed to the voluntary labeling represent about 80 percent of the volume of beer sold in the U.S., including Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands Beer Division, North American Breweries and Craft Brew Alliance.

“Providing meaningful information will ultimately empower the consumer when making decision regarding the beer beverage of their choice,” said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of D.C.-based trade association The Beer Institute.

It may be awhile before you see all of the information. The labeling is entirely voluntary, but The Beer Institute says it is encouraging those brewers and importers that have agreed to do it to have the labeling in place by 2020. Many beer makers already provide some nutritional facts and ingredients.

Smaller craft and microbrewers may be a little slower to adopt the new labeling.

“We’re hoping more and more brewers will come around to putting this information on their primary packaging, but this is a voluntary initiative,” McGreevy says.

“There are reasons why small brewers in particular might not want to do this, like cost or other reasons [but] we’re happy to start here with some of the largest brewers and beer importers in the country.

Beer is big business in the U.S. It contributes $253 billion to the U.S. economy.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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