Government Shutdown Affecting Local Breweries

The Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau is in charge of labeling and licensing for beer.

Some of your favorite brews may never make it to your local restaurant or store as a result of the partial shutdown of the federal government, and some businesses may not be able to open at all.

Federal agencies touch just about every sector of the economy, including beer.

Brewers across Connecticut are essentially in a holding pattern if they want to bring products to the market, whether it’s a new beer or a beverage they normally release at a certain time of the year.

The Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau, an agency many people don’t even know exists, is in charge of labeling and licensing for beer.

Thomas Hooker Brewing Company President Curt Cameron said the system works pretty well, when it’s running.

"A massive backlog is being created and labels that we have in for, let’s say a spring seasonal we have coming out, possibly won’t be approved until the middle of summer, so that might mean we’re not even coming out with that product,” Cameron explained.

Michael and Rachel Haseltine were hoping to open Better Half Brewing in April, but with the shutdown, they’re in a holding pattern.

“Our equipment is actually on trucks, on its way here from Oregon and so we’ll have equipment that in our facility that’s being renovated currently, and we can’t do anything with it,” Rachel Haseltine explained.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the brewing industry is a microcosm of the impact of the shutdown.

“It’s more than just the beer, it’s the business,” the Democrat said.

When a brewery applies for a new label, it typically takes between two to four weeks to get federal approval. When you combine a month-long shutdown with that timetable, and about 6,000 breweries across the country, that could mean a wait time of months.

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