Government shutdown stymies craft brewers

The news these days is full of stories about the federal government shutdown. Many focus on the larger narrative of the battle between the political parties, but some take a look at how folks outside of Washington, DC, are being affected. I was very interested to read a recent AP piece from Carrie Antlfinger (in Milwaukee) and Todd Richmond (in Madison) about the headaches that the shutdown is causing craft brewers. As they write,

lakefront brewery, milwaukee

Photo by Flickr user magrolino [michael freuhmann], used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

the shutdown has closed an obscure agency that quietly approves new breweries, recipes and labels, which could create huge delays throughout the rapidly growing craft industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of inventive and seasonal beers….

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, is a little-known arm of the Treasury Department. The agency will continue to process taxes from existing permit holders, but applications for anything new are in limbo.

“One could think of this shutdown as basically stopping business indefinitely for anyone who didn’t have certain paperwork in place back in mid-August,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, which represents more than 1,900 U.S. breweries.

As a big lover of black IPAs (AKA IBAs), J will be sad to hear this bit of news:

Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee has applications pending for new packaging of its IBA dark ale and for permission to offer a sour cherry dark lager called John, a brewery employee’s own concoction.

The brewery hopes to launch the IBA packaging in November and John in December, but nothing is certain now. If the shutdown causes delays, the brewery will probably have to rush the beers to market, he said.

“If we lose that first month, we lose out on a good chunk of money,” brewery spokesman Matt Karjnak said. “Right now, it’s only been a week so it’s not too bad. Two weeks, three weeks is when we’re really going to start sweating here.”

Check out the full story at HuffPost.

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