The government shutdown is holding new craft beers hostage

Sarah Jacobs/Business InsiderBeer at Manhattan’s McSorley’s Old Ale House.
  • Breweries can’t get labels approved for new beers.
  • The federal agency in charge of approving the labels has been closed as a result of the government shutdown.
  • “We release new beers every other week,” said Laura Dierks, CEO and founder of Interboro. “Right now, we’re looking at not being to sell beer in February because of this.”
  • Delays could persist even when the government resumes normal functioning. “It’s almost certain there will be a backlog when the shutdown ends,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers’ Association, a trade group representing breweries.

The government shutdown is threatening to halt new beer releases from breweries across the US.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approves labels and, in some cases, recipes for new concoctions of beer, wine, and spirits. The federal agency has been closed as a result of the shutdown, which is now in its 13th day.

Brooklyn, New York-based Interboro Spirits and Ales is already feeling the impact of the agency’s closure.

“We release new beers every other week,” said Laura Dierks, CEO and founder of Interboro. “Right now, we’re looking at not being to sell certain beer in February because of this.”


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Dierks can continue selling new beers within New York state, but in order to sell across state lines, she needs federal approval.

“We’re dependent on that revenue,” she said.

The shutdown is also delaying the permitting process for breweries that have applied to open new locations.

Even if the shutdown ends soon, delays could persist for weeks.

“It’s almost certain there will be a backlog when the shutdown ends,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers’ Association, a trade group representing breweries.

Breweries can continue submitting their requests for approval on new labels, recipes, and locations during the shutdown. But none of them will be processed until the shutdown ends.

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