The federal government shutdown could leave America’s craft brewers with a serious hangover. The shutdown that began Oct. 1 has closed an obscure agency that approves new breweries, recipes and labels. This could create huge delays throughout the rapidly growing craft beers industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of new releases and seasonal offerings.
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 have been in limbo since the shutdown. TTB was taking as long as 75 days to approve applications before the shutdown, according to some craft brewers, who are now bracing for even longer waits.
This is causing problems not only for those trying to open a craft brewery, but for existing brands as well. Petaluma, CA-based Lagunitas Brewing Co., for one, had planned to submit an application to package its autumn seasonal Hairy Eyeball in 22-oz. bottles instead of 12-oz. bottles but now it can’t move forward.
And New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO, has three recipes and five new labels awaiting approval. The release of the brewery’s new spring label, Spring Blonde, could get pushed back if the shutdown causes further delays.
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