I’ve spent most of the last week browsing the Budweiser website for Off to Clydesdale!. While browsing the homepage, I received a familiar pop-up: “You must be of legal drinking age to enter this site.” I’m almost of legal drinking age, so I entered my date of birth and continued my important horse research. If you spend as much time on Beer Internet as I do, you know that the age-specific pop-up is common. But I never stopped asking: Why do brewers ask for your date of birth, anyway?
At first I assumed it was some kind of legal measure. (Admittedly a bit flimsy – it would be very easy to list my date of birth as 09/06/1969 if I, a notorious pervert, was so inclined.) After a quick tour of a few brewery websites, I realized it was probably not a legal requirement; Mother’s Brewing, a mid-sized brewery in my hometown, has the pop-up, but I didn’t see it when I visited the websites for Half Acre Brewing or Spiteful Brewing, two of my Chicago favorites.
So what’s the point? Curious, I DMed John Carruthers, To go out donor, amazing pizza dad, and head of communications for Revolution Brewing (which has the age-restricted pop-up, for the record). He confirmed that the website pop-up is not a legal requirement; rather, he described it as a matter of professional code. It turns out that macro breweries (the big ones; Budweiser, et al) adhere to different marketing codes than small breweries. Here’s what I discovered with John’s help.
Macro Brewery Website Guidelines
Macro-breweries like Budweiser fall under the Beer Institute Advertising and Marketing Code. There’s a ton of cool stuff here; for example, the decree that “advertising and marketing materials for beer must not depict Santa Claus”. With respect to the issue under consideration – age-restricted brewery websites – the code states that “brewers shall adopt the perspective of the reasonable adult consumer of legal drinking age in the advertising and marketing of their products.
The code also states that “digital media in which there is a dialogue between a user and a brewer can only be achieved if a user confirms that he is of legal drinking age”. (For our purposes, this “dialogue” includes the purchase of beer.) The code indicates that the age confirmation should include either:
1) disclosure of a user’s full date of birth or other active confirmation method prior to viewing an advertisement or communicating with a brewer; Where,
2) restricting the site to users of legal drinking age through registration.
Logic! Now for the guidelines for small breweries:
Small Brewery Website Guidelines
Small breweries fall under the Brewers Association Marketing and Advertising Code. This code is intended to “guide the marketing efforts of BA members”, which means that it is not necessarily a requirement, although compliance with the code certainly seems like a good idea for reasons of responsibility. The code says:
“Brewers should require disclosure of a viewer’s date of birth with a message that brewers’ products are intended only for those of legal drinking age:
a. at the entrance to their websites;
b. at the point of download for permanent use of media with or without access to a brewer’s website;
vs. with compliant third-party digital media sites that include interactive features in brewer advertisements. »
Here we have it. Although a brewery is not legally required to ask for your date of birth before entering its website, it is a good faith and code-specific practice. That, or it’s an infamous data collection schema. (For the record, my friend John confirmed that Revolution doesn’t have the technology to log date of birth data.)
Either way, it won’t get in the way of your soapy hobbies.