Wednesday, October 9, 2013
It’s day nine of the government shutdown, and while Congress is still being paid for essentially doing nothing, many people in the craft beer game are starting to worry about their livelihoods and the effects that the government shutdown will have on the future of the craft beer industry. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Trade Bureau (TTB) is one of those bureaucratic agencies that we all tend to complain about, but since it is no longer allowed to operate due to the shutdown, no new applications for breweries, recipes and labels are being processed. They are continuing to tax existing craft breweries, but are not able to approve labels for new beers.
This doesn’t necessarily effect the multinational macro-breweries the same way as it does those operating at the craft beer level, since they don’t release a large number of seasonal beers or rely on a large portfolio of beers to thrive. They tend to crank out the same product en masse without any concerns about releasing new products every quarter. It was taking the TTB up to 75 days to approve new applications before the shutdown, so it certainly wasn’t a model of efficiency, but an extended shutdown could cripple the thriving craft beer industry in a way that a struggling economy and high excise taxes have failed to do thus far, and it could kill off new breweries before they get a chance to produce any products.
Any new brewery that didn’t have certain government paperwork in place before mid-August is facing an indefinite hiatus during the shutdown and are at risk of losing thousands of dollars each month that their opening is delayed. That may be pennies to the In Bev’s of the world or Representatives like Lee Terry who needs his congressional salary to pay for his nice house, but these are small businesses that help build and maintain local economies and they generate the sort of tax revenues needed to run agencies like the TTB.
Most people working in the craft beer industry have come to accept certain forms of government regulation, but with that regulation comes certain expectations like the ability to release new products in a timely manner and a responsive, operational government. Neither of these expectations are currently being fulfilled and it is no wonder that the approval of Congress currently sits at a disgraceful 5%.
Tony Magee of the Lagunitas Brewing Company may have said it best when he took to twitter to voice his frustrations over the government shutdown last week in an expletive laced tirade that concluded with the statement “wanna regulate? Perform or get out of the way.”
Here's a link to the article that inspired this post:http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500395_162-57606653/craft-beer-industry-goes-flat-during-government-shutdown/
Posted by mcpatrock at 4:31 PM