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Say It Ain't So! Shutdown Hurts Beer Supply

The small government office in charge of approving new craft beers and breweries has closed.

By Emily Stone

Government paychecks. National parks. Scientific research. We know these are on the list of things hurt by the federal government’s shutdown. But who knew craft beer had taken a hit, too?

The Associated Press reports that the small agency within the Treasury Department responsible for approving new breweries, recipes and labels has closed. This means that local craft breweries with new brews to share may be stuck in limbo for a while.

The closing of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is problematic for small breweries that continually introduce new and seasonal offerings as opposed to the beer behemoths that use the same tried and true recipes year round.

"Luckily we did not have any pending label approval requests, so the effect on us is minimal.  If a brewer is waiting on a license approval or label approval they are in trouble," said Scott Vaccaro of Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. in Elmsford, NY.

Half Acre Beer Company expects that even once the bureau is back up and running, the inevitable backlog of applications will impact its decisions about new beers, according to Chicago Grid. The brewery’s David Bowers told Chicago Grid that the longer the shutdown lasts, the more reluctant the company will be to try out new recipes that will need approval.

The situation is much worse for entrepreneurs hoping to open a new brewery. The AP talked with Mike Brenner, who was planning to open shop in Milwaukee by the end of the year. The shutdown will cost him $8,000 each month he’s delayed, he said. 

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