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Now it's serious: Government shutdown hurting beer production

October 09, 2013|By Stuart Pfeifer
  • Brewers of craft beer say the government shutdown is slowing release of new products.
Brewers of craft beer say the government shutdown is slowing release of… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

The rapidly growing craft beer industry is an unexpected victim of the federal government closure.

As the powers in Washington search for an end to the 9-day-old shutdown, an obscure agency that approves new breweries, recipes and labels is no longer accepting new applications, the Associated Press reported.

The stoppage could cause delays throughout the craft beer industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of inventive and seasonal beers.

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The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, an obscure arm of the Treasury Department, has told brewers that applications for anything new are on hold.

Todd Stevenson, chief operating officer of Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, Calif., told the AP that the company has been forced to hold off on plans to offer its autumn seasonal Hairy Eyeball in 22-ounce bottles.

"It's just aggravating," Stevenson said. "It is frustrating that government can't do its job. Doing what they're doing now is unprecedented."

Mike Brenner is trying to open a craft brewery in Milwaukee by December. His application to include a tasting room is now on hold, as are his plans to file paperwork for four labels over the next few weeks. He expects to lose about $8,000 for every month his opening is delayed.

"My dream, this is six years in the making, is to open this brewery," Brenner said. "I've been working so hard, and I find all these great investors. And now I can't get started because people are fighting over this or that in Washington .... This is something people don't mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer."

Brenner said politicians don't seem to care about the damage they're causing.

"For them it's just another day," he said. "They are still getting paid, but I'm losing $8,000 a month."

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