Government shutdown has impact on craft beer industry

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Here's something you may not think of when dealing with a government shutdown: craft beer. Alcohol is a highly regulated industry. While federal agencies are closed new beer labels can't be approved, leaving some breweries at a standstill.

For most local breweries there isn't an impact. The problems start if you're a brewery that sells products in multiple states and want to make a new beer or if you are just starting up and need licensing approval.

Maumee Bay Brewing Company sells products locally, throughout Ohio and in Michigan.

Craft beer is an innovative industry. New beers are constantly created at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company.

"We get these ideas and we want to make the beer and figure it out so nobody wants to wait," said Craig Kerr, the brewery manager at Maumee Bay Brewing Company.

But they may have to.

"If we want to make new beer we won't be able to label it. We would not be able to sell a beer across state lines if we were to make something new, so that would be a problem," said Kerr.

Because when the federal government is shut down, that means so is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB: an agency that approves new formula ingredients, licensing, as well as new product labeling.

Here's what its website looks like now.

"You will also be able to access TTB’s eGovernment applications, including Permits Online, Formulas Online, and COLAs Online, during the shutdown period, but submissions will not be reviewed or approved until appropriations are enacted. In addition, other information on this website may not be up to date, and TTB will not be able to respond to questions or comments submitted via the website until appropriations are enacted," the site reads in part.

"It's four weeks with the government, then you've got three or four weeks in artwork preparation. Then you got a couple weeks in printing. Then you got four weeks to make the beer, so it's a long ways out. If one of those things falls apart or is delayed, it kind of throws everything else into a delay cycle," said Kerr.

Maumee Bay's newest beer: Tiramisu Brown Ale was approved just in time before the shutdown, and will sold and served the first week of January.

So, operations have continued as normal so far, but...

"If the government shutdown were to continue three or four weeks it would effect things I'm going to do in the late spring. So, that's why I want to get it over now, because we got ideas for the spring already in our minds," said Kerr.

Based on what we're hearing in Washington that there's no end in sight to the shutdown at this point, Kerr's fears could become reality.