Government shutdown hits craft breweries

January 16, 2019 06:08 PM

Craft brewers are venting some bottled up frustrations. As the federal government shutdown hit day 26 on Wednesday, the trickle-down effects are now threatening production of seasonal brews.

"It's already a month. That's coming up on ten percent of our annual production of what's special, interesting, unique and delicious," said Jeremy Cowan, owner of the Shmaltz Brewing Company.

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New craft brews are now on hold as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is closed. Also known as the TTB, it's responsible for approving labels on all new products. That approval is just the first step in what Cowan says is a 90 to 120-day process before their product can hit bars and shelves.

"Those special release beers are what we're known for. It's what our reputation is built on. It's what our margins are based on, so we're going to be having a hole in our budget," said Cowan.

Shmaltz says seasonal brews make up up to 50 percent of their yearly productions and they typically push out about 12 new beers each year.

Cowan says as of right now, it looks like one to three of their planned spring brews might not become a reality and summer production could be affected, too. If the shutdown drags on, he says the economic impacts would be wide-reaching. Everyone from the people who grow the hops and supply the malts to the can manufacturers, label maker and marketing staff could be touched.

"Really, the fingers go through almost every element of the economy --  especially here in New York where Craft beer is so important to the local community," said Cowan.

Cowan says it's too soon to know just how big the hit will be. He and other brewers are hoping that the government is back up and running before the situation gets worse.

"This is an industry that's vulnerable. It's small businesses. These are family owned, independent, high-quality producers and we touch every element of the economy. I'm really hoping we can get some solutions here and be back up and running as soon as possible," said Cowan.


Jacquie Slater

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