Government shutdown affects local craft breweries

Government shutdown affects local craft breweries

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The nation is nearing three weeks since the beginning of the partial government shutdown, and craft brewers are starting to worry.

For people like Dave Reese, brewmaster and partner at Chandeleur Island Brewing Company, the partial government shutdown means the brewery can’t put any new beers to market.

“In order for us to put a beer to market, we need a COLA (certificate of label approval),” Reese said. COLAs come from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. According to the TTB website, submissions will not be reviewed or approved until the end of the shutdown.

“If the beer has any crazy ingredients, you also need to get formula approval.” Reese used the guava jelly sour ale as an example of a beer that needed formula approval.

Without a COLA, breweries are limited to serving their beer in their taprooms and only on draft. That means they can’t can and distribute their beers out of state or even to local supermarkets.

“This is going to affect anyone dealing with alcohol, but right now it’s really hitting craft beer because of how the industry is,” Reese said. “You need to develop the latest and greatest because that’s what the people want. You constantly need to be inventive and offer up something new.”

Even when the partial government shutdown does end, Reese said that doesn’t mean things will automatically go back to normal.

“Before the shutdown, it was about a 21-day return for label approval and seven days for formula approval,” he said. “It’s going to be a considerably longer wait. I can’t even imagine what is going to be like once the government reopens with the backlog of approvals. I’m terrified of what the wait’s going like.”

Chandeleur Island Brewing Company is one of the three Gulf Coast breweries that distributes beer outside of the taproom.

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