Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Now It's A Fight: Government Shutdown Blocks New Craft Beers

Vermont has a LOT of craft breweries, and the government shutdown
is preventing them all from rolling out new brews. This is
a problem nationwide because of the Washington stupidity. 
This week, I learned of a new, terrible effect of the long partial federal government shutdown.

Breweries, including all of Vermont's many craft breweries can't release new beers to the public.

There's an obscure federal agency called the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) that must approve all new beers and their labels before they can be sold.  It's an arm of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This agency is shut down. It's a bit of a crisis for breweries because now is the time of year they prepare to release their summer beers. That's a big marketing push, and if breweries can't release the summer stuff, they can't sell it, and we can't try it.

Yes, I know this is a much smaller crisis than the fact that hundreds of thousands of workers are not getting paid and face potential financial ruin. It's also not as important that public safety is compromised, and unsupervised national parks are being trashed by legions of idiots.

Brewers are saying if the government reopens this week, they might be able to get their summer products on store shelves in May. A little late, but still OK. If the government is shut down longer than that, it might be August before those new summer beers hit the shelves. At that point, why bother?

Even when or if the federal bureau opens, there's going to be a big backlog of new beer applications they're going to have to deal with.

This won't just hurt breweries, Rob Burns of Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts told NBC  News. "Business is really so unpredictable and fragile and things that are completely out of control can have a big impact,"

The business model for most craft breweries is to constantly churn out new, innovative beers people love to try, notes Esquire. The government shutdown is, well, shutting down that tap. Craft Brewing in the United States is now a $76 billion industry. This will not be good.

This is particularly bad in Vermont, which is sort of the Napa Valley of craft beers. The Vermont Brewers Association says as of 2017, says the industry in the state has an overall economic impact of $378.2 million. Of that, $126.7 million is direct to tourism, and the industry accounts for $107.8 million in labor income.

Vermont has 11.49 breweries per capita, which is first in the nation.

A shorter government shutdown in 2013 had Vermont brewers pulling out their hair, VPR reported at the time. It has to be much worse now.

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