Government Shutdown Throws A Wrench In The Release Of Some Seasonal Craft Brews

Jan 9, 2019
Originally published on January 9, 2019 1:59 pm

If the impasse over President Trump’s proposed border wall makes it to Saturday morning, this will be the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. And it has an unlikely victim — craft beer.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is responsible for approving the labels on cans of newly-released beer. The agency makes sure it contains the beer’s alcohol percentage and a surgeon general’s warning about the health impacts of drinking.

But the bureau is unable to do so because most of its workers are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown, which began on Dec. 22.

“It’s basically putting a hold on new releases of beer,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association. “For some brewers, it’s impacting their sales forecasts, their release calendar and their process flow for introducing new brands to the market.”

The partial government shutdown is well into its third week, with President Donald Trump and Democrats grappling over whether to fund a $5 billion wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. The dispute has led to national park closures and over 800,000 federal employees being furloughed.

According to Gatza, this also means government agencies aren’t approving permits for new microbreweries and ingredients for specialty-flavored beers, like apple ale.

He said requests for these services are piling up. So even if the government reopens soon, there will be a first-come, first-served backlog for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to tackle.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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