Say It Ain't So! Shutdown Hurts Beer Supply

The government office in charge of approving new craft beers and breweries has closed leaving some small breweries in limbo.

Newport Storm's brewery in Newport could feel the squeeze if the government shutdown continues. Credit: Newport Storm.
Newport Storm's brewery in Newport could feel the squeeze if the government shutdown continues. Credit: Newport Storm.

Government paychecks. National parks. Scientific research. We know these are on the list of things hurt by the federal government’s shutdown. But who knew craft beer had taken a hit, too?

The Associated Press reports that the small agency within the Treasury Department responsible for approving new breweries, recipes and labels has closed. This means that local craft breweries with new brews to share may be stuck in limbo for a while.

The closing of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is problematic for small breweries that continually introduce new and seasonal offerings as opposed to the beer behemoths that use the same tried and true recipes year round.

Rhode Island's Coastal Extreme Brewing Company, which brews Newport Storm, has not felt a big hit yet, but expects it will if the shutdown continues much longer, according to Brent Ryan, one of the brewery's founders. 

New brews coming out of Newport — including a coconut porter, a winter porter and the brewery's annual special, this year a dark coffee ale — had already been approved before the shutdown, but craft brews planned for later in the year could be put on hold, and plans to sell in other states could be delayed until the federal office reopens to approve seasonal labels.

"The longer the shutdown goes, the tougher it will be," Ryan said. "As of yet, we've not be impacted financially, but there's a potential for that looming on the horizon."

And others are worried about taking a financial hit. The government shutdown, and the pain some small breweries are already feeling, was all the talk among microbrewers at this weekend's Great American Beer Fest, Ryan said. 

"Really, for small brewers, the longer this goes on ... we will all be impacted," he said



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