Government shutdown causes headache for local beer and wine makers

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — It’s day 20 of the partial federal government shutdown, and it’s taking a toll on many industries. That includes local breweries.

Breweries wanting to come out with new beer will have to wait for the government to reopen. That means local beer fans looking for their next favorite brew will have to be patient.

Anytime a brewery wants to come out with a new or seasonal beer they must get the label approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. With that on hold, many breweries like White Squirrel Brewery in Bowling Green are stuck waiting to distribute those beers.

Sean Stevens is Co-Founder at White Squirrel where it’s not business as usual.

“It’s life and death on our businesses. Again, me as small as I am it’s not going to hurt me that bad,” said Stevens.

White Squirrel doesn’t release as many new brews as some of the larger operations, but they’re still feeling the effects of a government shutdown.

“I found out this morning that we have a new distributor here, and I didn’t realize that I didn’t have it registered with them. So now it’s hit me. I thought I was fine until today,” said Stevens.

Breweries submit labels for approval to the TTB to make sure information on it isn’t misleading, offensive and meets guidelines. It’s a process that can take up to 30 days.

“Whether it be canned, whether it be bottle or keg, and if it’s a new product then it has to be approved through the government,” said Stevens.

The breweries aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of the shutdown. A new Warren County winery plans to open in the fall, but the process has been delayed for weeks now.

“Everything is on hold for us. I have everything I need to begin production of wine for our winery,” said Derrick Huff, Owner and Vintner at Traveler’s Cellar Winery.

With no certain date for when the government will reopen, Derrick and his wife Deserea, who is also an owner at the winery, have their plans on hold indefinitely.

“Right when the government shutdown we were in days of receiving that federal permit, and with the shutdown, of course, we now have to wait,” said Huff.

Once the government does eventually reopen there will likely be a large backlog of people waiting for approval, which will likely take longer than normal.