US Government Shutdown Affects Beer Industry

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by BrewmanCapote, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. BrewmanCapote

    BrewmanCapote Aspirant (235) Feb 3, 2013 Illinois

    Per CNN, no new beers or breweries can be approved until the government shutdown ends.

    Among the federal agencies hit by the shutdown is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which regulates the alcohol beverage industry.

    "Breweries have to apply for a permit and receive approval from the TTB before they can begin operations.
    Those processes have been put on hold, explained Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, a non-profit trade association. "So it could delay some brewery openings once the shutdown is lifted."

    Consumers could also feel the effects, Gatza said. Breweries must get new beers approved through the TTB before they can make them available to the public.

    "If the shutdown goes on for an extended time," Gatza said, "beer drinkers won't see much in the way of innovative new brands on the shelves where they buy beer."

    Please note: Definitely not trying to start a debate or introduce politics to BA. But this seems relevant and newsworthy to me.


    Update: Impact from the Brewers Association:
  2. surfcaster

    surfcaster Crusader (750) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Premium Trader

    Damn--another hazebro conspiracy to keep NEIPA at the top.

    GOBLIN Meyvn (1,274) Mar 3, 2013 Ohio
    Premium Trader

    But . . . But . . . That means that I might have to buy something available year round.
  4. tobelerone

    tobelerone Poo-Bah (2,318) Dec 1, 2010 New York

    What will happen to say, Other half? They release like 2-3 new beers weekly. Will they have to only can repeat recipes?
  5. surfcaster

    surfcaster Crusader (750) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Premium Trader

    Thanks for the post. Although I was poking fun in my response, this shutdown is affecting livelihoods and was completely unnecessary. Sad to see these unintended consequences, that although minor overall, shows how tangential this sort of thing can go.
  6. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,754) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    Of course they end on a doomsday scenario. How long would the shutdown have to last before we all missed new brands of beer?
  7. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (108) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Obviously, same for the wine industry. Label approval is a big one, but even bigger for the beer industry which has to bottle/can on a short time scale, and can't exactly let beer sit in their tanks and wait for the TTB to open. It's a lot more forgiving for the wine industry, which at this time of year is in no need to empty tanks since we are a few months past harvest, and wineries can bottle shiners (bottles without labels) then run them through the labeler when they do get label approval.

    For some breweries, this is going to be a very big issue. We are generally allowed to reprint identical or nearly identical previously approved labels, but since so many breweries are constantly doing new things, this is difficult.
  8. BrewmanCapote

    BrewmanCapote Aspirant (235) Feb 3, 2013 Illinois

    Oh, the humanity! :slight_smile:
  9. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,754) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    It would be nice if the government wasn't involved in beer and wine labels altogether. That way it wouldn't be a problem.
  10. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,171) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Trader

    While I'm on govt furlough I'm drinking down my cellar and spending more time on BA forums...
  11. Jaycase

    Jaycase Meyvn (1,244) Jan 13, 2007 Illinois

    Does Other Half distribute their beer? My understanding is TTB label approval only applies to beer which is distributed (and out of state, at that?). So TTB label approval doesn't apply to those breweries which sell everything onsite or even self-distribute I believe. The specifics might vary by state perhaps. Someone can confirm or deny this.
  12. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (108) Feb 25, 2013 California

    As long as we have to remit our taxes to them, they'll be all up in our business. And I don't think being under the FDA would be any better.
    thesherrybomber, dcotom and PatrickCT like this.
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,363) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, that is my understanding, too. The Feds can only require a TTB COLA for beer when it is distributed out of state BUT some states require the COLA for their own state label approval/brand registration.

    I'm not good at legalese, but I think that's what this means:

    Subpart C—Labeling Requirements for Malt Beverages - §7.20 General.
    (a) Application. This subpart shall apply to malt beverages sold or shipped or delivered for shipment, or otherwise introduced into or received in any State from any place outside thereof, only to the extent that the law of such State imposes similar requirements with respect to the labeling of malt beverages not sold or shipped or delivered for shipment or otherwise introduced into or received in such State from any place outside thereof.

    No reason why a beer distributed in-state only via a licensed wholesale distributor (either voluntary or because of a mandatory state Three Tier law) would be an exception that I see.
    LuskusDelph, thebeers, GOBLIN and 3 others like this.
  14. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,038) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Premium Trader

    This times infinity.
    5thOhio, PatrickCT and GOBLIN like this.
  15. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,361) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    You have a lot more faith in people than I do. Certainly there are some absurdities breweries are forced to overcome, such as pictures of kids eating oatmeal or depictions of Santa Claus, but laws requiring uniform labeling standards help ensure consumers are making informed choices.
  16. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,754) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    Is that right? I have bought beer before without the ABV printed on the label. I have bought a beer without a date saying when it was made. Beer labels rarely contain ingredients. I don't always feel all that informed despite the government being involved in approving labels.
    Sabtos, dcotom, lrend13 and 11 others like this.
  17. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (231) Jun 4, 2005 California

    At the risk of running afoul of the terms of this site, I must say I don't see the connection between a southern wall and the (partial) derailment of our beer train. Surely smarter heads will prevail :slight_smile:
  18. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,361) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    You're right, the labeling requirements don't go far enough. It should be required that the ABV is included on the label so people know how impaired they can expect to become. 1 "beer" can have an ABV 700% or more higher than another "beer" and not be required to disclose that fact? This is madness.
    #18 DIM, Jan 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  19. TurkeysDrinkBeer

    TurkeysDrinkBeer Initiate (45) Sep 8, 2018 Virginia

    Government worker here also but unfortunately not on furlough and am currently working 12hr days. Last time this happened we all got retroactive pay for the lost days so it was essentially paid time off, could use some extra beer drinking time. As far as the BA forums, I do that at work anyway lol. Cheers!
    EricRub, mnrider, mikeinportc and 6 others like this.
  20. Tshane

    Tshane Aspirant (264) Jan 22, 2016 Michigan

    I smell potential conspiracy and fraud--maybe even tragedy, and on a mass scale. And I'm not even talking about a regular day at the White House:
    Since American lawn mower swills aren't "new beers," might a craft brewery like Founders simply steal (or buy) tanks of it, then shovel it, with added caramel coloring, into their pretty bottles??
    Oh, the humanity!

    (Oops, posted before commenting.)
  21. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (678) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Must be nice. I work 10 hour days and bust my ass all day. When I don’t bust it all day I hear about it.

  22. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (108) Feb 25, 2013 California

    In wine and beer, there are 'classes' which mean the product ABV is within a certain rainge. At least for wine, there are a bunch of rules about this but these rules were written way back at Repeal and don't reflect the current market and industry. As for bottling date I don't think that's required in any situation - it's the breweries adding that on their own. There are breweries around here (Sacramento) that put those old school grocery store price stickers on the 4/6 pack can holders with the brew date on them.

    As for beers not having the ingredients listed, that's because they aren't regulated by the FDA. That's purely an FDA thing and as long as it's the TTB regulating them, I doubt the beer and wine industries will ever be required to list ingredients.
  23. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,363) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    With wine, but not with beer - at least at the Federal level:

    Of course for beer, listing ABV was long prohibited unless required by the state. After a suit by Coors that went to the SCOTUS, the BATF changed the rule to allow it, unless prohibited by the state.
    §7.26 Alcoholic content [suspended as of April 19, 1993; see §7.71].
    (a) The alcoholic content and the percentage and quantity of the original extract shall not be stated unless required by State law.
    §7.71 Alcoholic content.
    (a) General. Alcoholic content and the percentage and quantity of the original gravity or extract may be stated on a label unless prohibited by State law.

    The proposal for ingredients listing on beer and other alcoholic beverages has been kicking around since the 1970s (like in this 1974 Memorandum from the BATF) pretty sure their were a similar proposals in 1990s and again in the early 2000s.
    mikeinportc, LuskusDelph and thebeers like this.
  24. TurkeysDrinkBeer

    TurkeysDrinkBeer Initiate (45) Sep 8, 2018 Virginia

    Sounds like you need a government job, sure there are plenty in the fine state of PA.
  25. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,171) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Trader

    Problem is that there is no guarantee of retroactive pay, though it has happened in the past. Also no idea if we're going back next week or next June.
  26. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,163) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

    Our SN Beer Camp beer got screwed over during the last shutdown ... beer was brewed and then couldn't be shipped for many weeks after. #sadface
  27. LarryV

    LarryV Meyvn (1,065) Jun 13, 2001 Massachusetts

    That sucks ... !
  28. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,163) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

    On the bright side ... perhaps some breweries won't try to release 179 different beers in one year. ;-)
  29. stevesbeer

    stevesbeer Initiate (106) May 17, 2016 Washington

    Won't somebody think of the children!? :wink::grin:
  30. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (108) Feb 25, 2013 California

    Yeah that's rough. Not sure if this applies for beer, but later last year TTB put out an industry circular for wineries that they were expanding exemptions for applying for new COLAs when you are just changing things like description of the wine on the back label, what food to pair with it, some sustainability messaging. Hopefully they eased things up for breweries also so they might be able to get away without submitting COLAs where they don't have to.

    edit: I just looked it up, and it does apply to breweries, so maybe you beer industry folks have a few more options than you thought you had. Here it is:
    drtth likes this.
  31. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,194) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Premium Trader

    After reading several takes on what the TTB does and doesn’t do, it sounds like all they really do is add another level of beaurocracy and no real value. Like the dude in Office Space that invented “jump to conclusions” game.
  32. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,329) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Did BeerAdvocate have its own Beer Camp beer? (If so, what was it? Did it at least go on tap in California?)
  33. VitisVinifera

    VitisVinifera Initiate (108) Feb 25, 2013 California

    I'm not here to defend the TTB, but I'll tell you a few things that the do:
    -approve new licenses on the federal level (this is the main #1 thing new wineries and breweries have to do, relating to permits)
    -laws on what may and may not be added to wine and beer, or limits on certain things
    -approve/deny label approvals
    -collect Excise Tax
    -answer the phone and emails when we have questions, and offer us guidance when former cellar rats who have become production managers don't speak legalese
    -require periodic reporting of production (ok this is flat out a drag)
    -ensure a certain amount of confidence the consumer may have that the products they buy are safe, legal, and not fraudulent

    They've actually been loosening up over the years. For example, for wine, the lower tax rate was extended from wines under 14% abv to under 16% abv. Also as I posted above, they recently increased exceptions under which a new label approval does not need to be submitted, when changes are minor.

    It's been brought up in these forums a few times about how people wish breweries listed all their ingredients. To the TTB's benefit, they aren't going down that path.
    mikeinportc, Riff, jwat and 2 others like this.
  34. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,194) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Premium Trader

    I appreciate your insight and I’m certainly not interested in taking away from that, but rather to explain why I have my opinion in what I see is at best, overlap in government agencies.

    What ingredients can or can’t be added should be an FDA function (FDA likely never given the mandate in order to protect the existence of TTB); excise taxes should be done by the IRS; issuing licenses and label approval should be consumer protection / Federal Trade Bureau. Answering questions about navigating the TTB seems self serving.

    I am of the opinion that the government wastes more money than it spends meaningfully, partially due to bloat. As a business owner you would consistently look for opportunities to reduce cost. The government never has to, and we allow them to blow our money with virtually no accountability. The shutdown only effects 15% of the budget, that’s because a sickening 85% of the budget automatically renews. Let that sink in - what is that, 17 TRILLION of our money just gets spent with little or no oversight and accountability? That’s why I take exception to most every government agency when their mandate seems superfluous given the capabilities of other agencies.

    Just my $.02, not looking to offend anyone.
    stevesbeer, Jwhit, wspscott and 4 others like this.
  35. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (1,515) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Premium Trader

    Don't worry, @Giantspace, some of us with government jobs have to work hard still (with a promise to be paid later ...) Just like many private sector jobs - some people have to work hard and some don't have to work as hard. But in this case, the people approving labels don't have to work at all and will likely still get paid. That seems a little like retirement.
    arizcards and Squire like this.
  36. TurkeysDrinkBeer

    TurkeysDrinkBeer Initiate (45) Sep 8, 2018 Virginia

    No truer words have ever been spoken. As a government worker I see this first hand everyday.
    mnrider, PatrickCT, bound4er and 2 others like this.
  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,363) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    The TTB, like the IRS, is part of the Treasury Dept. and only dates from the early 2000's (when the ATF was moved into the newly created DHS) A few years later the Obama administration apparently proposed to fold the TTB into the IRS or (from a 2013 Wine & Spirits Daily post):
    Apparently the industry itself was against it:
    mikeinportc, LuskusDelph and gopens44 like this.
  38. TurkeysDrinkBeer

    TurkeysDrinkBeer Initiate (45) Sep 8, 2018 Virginia

    I didn't always have this sweet ass job that allows me to surf the internet, just for the last four yrs. Paid my dues in the trenches so that I could climb into this nice cushy desk. Spent the last furlough working out of state away from home with a government credit card that wouldn't work for anything. We had to stay and get the job done while hoping the government would pass a budget before the hotel bill was due, thankfully it did or we would have been responsible to pay it ourselves.
    mikeinportc, rgordon and jvgoor3786 like this.
  39. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (872) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    The very last thing I worry about in these idiotic political exercises called government shutdowns is any effect on the beer industry. As Vicente Fox might say, we ain't paying for no freaking wall.....And neither are we! I once compared 2018 to 1968, but 2019 is a different world altogether.
  40. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,621) Aug 23, 1996 California

    Yes. Back in 2013. I believe it was served at Sierra Nevada in Chico, limited accounts in Boston and Denver, and at our fest.

    It definitely suffered from being delayed (for many months, not weeks). By the time it was finally released, it simply wasn't fresh and lost a lot of its overall character. But we had an awesome time brewing it.
    deanzaZZR, mikeinportc and thebeers like this.