Whether or not the government shutdown is a good or a bad thing seems to be a matter of perspective, but there’s at least one thing it could hurt that is guaranteed to get everyone on board for a solution in a bipartisan way: The craft beer industry.
According to BrewYork, the shutdown doesn’t just affect non-essential government services like parks and stuff. It could end up coming between you and your enjoyment of local craft beer.
One of the groups facing furloughs, the Tax and Trade Bureau, is in charge of regulating alcohol. It takes care of licenses and new breweries and such, and depending on how long they’re out of commission, both new and existing brewers could face some significant trouble.
The TTB has been forced to furlough a majority of their employees, bringing their staff down from 518 to just 35. Per their shutdown plan, shared on the Treasury Department’s website, only emergency personnel will remain. The folks who do the permits and certificates of label approval are classified as “non-exempt.”
I know, I know. “What does this mean?” It means that the processing of brewery permits is at an end for now. These permits allow new breweries to open. “No bid deal,” you say. “The breweries still open should keep the beer flowing.”
That’s true if the shutdown doesn’t last too long. But remember that the craft beer industry is growing dramatically right now, and that new breweries are being added at the rate of nearly one per day.
Existing breweries will be hurt, too. Without the proper certificates, new beers can’t be sold or imported. Any new style of beer that was coming up can’t be sold without the certificate. Existing brews on the market can still be made and sold, so long as the label doesn’t change.
We don’t mean to freak you out, though. The TTB will still be collecting federal beer excise taxes. It’s required by law, after all.