The Corner

Meet the One Federal Bureaucrat Who Controls What Beer Labels Can Look Like in America

Kent “Battle” Martin, who approves beer bottles and labels for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, has singlehandedly approved nearly 30,000 beer labels this year, according to the Daily Beast. But the labels he rejected — and his reasons for doing so — seem to indicate the man is hardly lenient when it comes to deciding what’s okay to print on an American beer container.

He shot down a beer label with a sloshed Santa Claus, the Daily Beast reported, because the eyes appeared to “googly” when labels must not promote the impact of alcohol on the body. He reportedly rejected a label for the beer King of Hearts that contained a playing card because the heart could make consumers believe the beer would have some sort of health benefit. And he reportedly denied another holiday-themed beer because it contained a warning for elves not to operate toy-making machinery while drinking, which Martin claimed would confuse consumers.

“He’s just amazingly finicky on stupid things that don’t really achieve any government purpose,” one brewer told the Daily Beast. “He’s implementing rules that are totally antiquated. If you do something like 30,000 [label approvals], [perhaps] it makes you feel like you are the law.”

Brewers said that Martin sends his decisions about the “Battle”-tested bottles at all hours of the day, and he reportedly asks to be called by his nickname “Battle.” Despite many brewers’ disgust for the man the Daily Beast labeled a “pedantic pain in the ass,” some of his strongest opponents reportedly admire his work ethic and attention to detail.

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