Government Shutdown Hits Something Really Important: Beer
OK, sure, we’re sad about the little kids not getting food, and not being able to go to Head Start, but now this shutdown thing is getting serious: NBC reports that the government shutdown
has closed an obscure agency that approves new breweries, recipes and labels, which could create huge delays throughout the rapidly growing craft beer industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of inventive and seasonal brews.
House Republicans, have you no sense of decency? Have you at long last no sense of shame?
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.
“One could think of this shutdown as basically stopping business indefinitely for anyone who didn’t have certain paperwork in place back in mid-August,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, which represents more than 1,900 U.S. breweries. limbo.
This is a travesty. This is an assault on the basic values of America. This is the sort of stupid thing that could actually make people angry, sort of like what happened in 2011 when Minnesota’s state government shutdown came to an abrupt end once people realized that no licenses for beer sales could be renewed. Faced with the prospect of every single liquor store, bar and store in the state having to take major brands of beer off the shelf in the middle of the summer (and amid not-inconsiderable unhappiness from the beverage industry), the legislature and governor quickly made peace & reopened state gummint.
The NBC story details some of the horrific casualties:
- Lagunitas Brewery in California is unable to market its autumn “Hairy Eyeball” seasonal beer in a new 22-ounce size
- The owner of a brand-new brewery in Milwaukee is losing $8000 a month while waiting for approval to start operations, including a tap room.
- Another Milwaukee brewery, Lakefront, is unable to get approval for new packaging of its IBA dark ale, and must wait for “permission to offer a sour cherry dark lager called John, a brewery employee’s own concoction.”
- Yr. Dok Zoom’s favorite, New Belgium Brewing in Colorado, will be unable to bring to fruition its “three recipes and five new labels,” including a new seasonal, “Spring Blonde.” (And this, even though they have a solar and wind-powered brewery!)
Unfortunately, these relatively small breweries do not have the clout of the mega-brewers whose products never change and taste like damp air. If the shutdown drags on long enough, of course, Congress could start hearing from big brewers who want to push new product — wouldn’t want a conglomerate to lose money by delaying the launch of new Budweiser Ultra-Flat.
Please, Congress. If you won’t think of the children, won’t you please, PLEASE think of the innocent beer? A thirsty nation looks to you.