As embarrassing as it is to explain to the rest of the world, parts of the US government shut down on December 22nd after President Donald Trump and lawmakers failed to reach a deal to allocate $5 billion to fund the construction of a Mexican border wall.
The shutdown, which ends funding for around 25% of federal services and leaves 800,000 members of staff without pay, means that government agencies must postpone all non-essential work until the government is restored.
The partial government shutdown includes the closure of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (affectionately referred to as the TTB by the beer industry). The TTB is the federal organization that oversees things like brewery applications, beer labels, and loans. And breweries that distribute across state lines can’t do that without the TTB’s label approval.
To understand the depth of the problems that the TTB’s closure is causing craft brewers across the nation one needs to look no further than DC’s neighboring state of Virginia…Because what’s happening in Virginia is happening to brewers all across the nation.
Elation Brewing – Norfolk, Virginia
According to the Daily Press “Kenny Van Hook’s new brewery in Norfolk, VA was almost a go….
“The tanks were in place. The city gave its OK, and so did the state. He just needed one last piece of paperwork before he could start making beer at his forthcoming Elation Brewing in Norfolk.”
Unfortunately the last thing Van Hook was waiting on was Federal approval. And now that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is closed and his application on hold till who knows when, Elation Brewing’s opening date is in limbo…
Port City Brewing – Alexandria, Virginia
Located across the Potomac River from nearby Washington DC, is Port City Brewing Company, an award-winning brewery that brews, serves, and ships beer to the DC and Mid-Atlantic market.
And although the government shutdown hasn’t impacted their production schedule yet, Port City Founder Bill Butcher told American Craft Beer that he was concerned…
“The craft beer industry depends on innovation to drive growth, which means introducing new beers to the market throughout the year, and the shutdown makes planning our new releases impossible”
“We work hard to get ahead of our business and this shutdown wrecks our plans. If we can’t get our new labels approved in a timely manner, it affects our entire operation, and damages our revenue stream, which relies on new beers in the market.”
Deschutes Beer Roanoke, Virginia
With its plans to build a second brewery in Roanoke, Virginia currently on hold, Deschutes is totally dependent on beers brewed at the company’s home base in Bend Oregon to keep up with growing demand for its beers in Virginia.
“We’ve considerable retail commitments in Virginia and several new beers awaiting TTB label approval” Mike Rowan, Deschutes Food & Beverage Director told American Craft Beer. “Our brewing schedule is planned well in advance and the longer the TTB is closed the more problematic things are going to become.”