You thought the government shutdown wasn’t really affecting you? Well, no new beers can come on the market while the government is shut down.
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.”
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 are in limbo.
It’s not just new breweries. Existing breweries can add no new seasonals, no beer moving toward cans, no change in bottle size. Basically, the brewing industry is on hold until the Republicans decide to eat less fire. And given the closeness between Big Brewing and the Republican Party, I don’t expect this to be a priority.