All beer labels have to be approved by one guy, and he's a nutcase

A man named Kent "Battle" Martin is the "Beer Bottle Dictator", said to be loathed by the business for his capricious and arbitrary decisionmaking.

Reaching the federal official by phone, Dillman called him “Mr. Martin.” A big mistake: Battle’s predilection for being particular apparently extended from beer applications to his name.

“You want to be addressed as ‘Battle?’” a confused Dillman replied, recounting the story. “Can you imagine addressing a senior inspector from the Department of Treasury, and you have to call him ‘Battle?’”

Their tussle over the bottle cap’s approval eventually sucked in California’s senators, a congressman, and the ACLU before it was eventually resolved. The cap stayed only because it referenced Civil War-era California state lawmaker Abner Weed, the namesake of the town.

Notable Replies

  1. Among brewers, he’s a tyrant. A legend.

    A pedantic pain in the ass.

    So, which one of us commentators is this guy IRL?

  2. JonS says:

    America is weird.

    I'm not really keen on sticking up for the likes of Budweiser or Schlitz, but ... you have to ask permission for what goes on your beer labels?

    America is weird.

  3. As soon as we get rid of this there will be a Jihadi beer and then the terrorist will have won. There is a reason that he wants to be called Battle -- he is single-handedly battling against the terrorists.

  4. Yeah, now he's just John Mellencamp.

  5. This article is pretty damn unfair. I've worked with Battle on our beer labels for the last six years; and while we've had our differences I've never found him to be anything but fair. He doesn't have a choice in how our label laws are written.

    If you want a good head-scratcher, check out the relevant text up at the TTB website. There's a lot that doesn't make much sense, and a lot left to interpretation. If you can show Battle a good argument in favor of your label, he's always been willing to listen in my experience.

    Battle is also among the rarest of things: a charming and personable government bureaucrat. I've met him in person a few times and seen him speak at Brewers' conferences. The guy looks like a classic G-man, but works a room like a seasoned stand-up comedian.

    He's also incredibly hard-working. I've had responses back from him at 6am on a Saturday morning. Given the number of breweries submitting labels, the guy deserves some respect.

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