Federal Shutdown Has Local Breweries Sweating


Several local brewers are starting to see dark clouds on the horizon regarding the Federal government’s shutdown. Breweries are required to get a federal brewery license before they begin brewing for resale and all beer labels go through an approval process. And of course, none of that is progressing right now.

Timothy Patton who is working to open Saint Benjamin’s Brewery before the year ends is awaiting federal brewery licensing before he can officially open his Kensington nano-brewery. And of course he also needs to get label approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for any beer he is looking to sell by bottle or keg. Tom Kehoe of Yards is anxiously looking at the calendar as well. He was hoping to launch a new rye beer come January but that release date may wind up being delayed.

Gene Muller of Flying Fish knows first hand that even when the government starts back up, it will take time for the wheels to get spinning. Muller was hit by two government shutdowns while he was getting Flying Fish’s original Cherry Hill, New Jersey brewery open. Each came with its own delays. This time around he’s worried about interest rates. Flying Fish recently closed on a loan for construction at its new Somerdale brewery. Muller’s got the money, but doesn’t  know the interest rate, as it is tied to treasury bonds which haven’t been auctioned off since the government closed for business. With the threat of the federal government defaulting and what that could mean for rates, Muller is at least mildly concerned.

So what will happen to all the beer without labels? Flying Fish at least has an option of selling it in-state. New Jersey does not require TTB labeling, though nearby states like Pennsylvania and Virginia do. So, maybe “bootleggers will be able to float 12-ounce bottles of Exit 1 across the Delaware River to Philadelphia. Otherwise it might be time for local brewers to consider brewing some already approved blasts from the past.

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