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Government shutdown could put new beer releases on hold

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Craft breweries across Indiana may soon begin to feel the effects of the government shutdown.

With the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (known as TTB) closed until a new budget is approved, breweries, wineries and distilleries can’t get approval on certain products.

New products that haven’t been released will have to wait before hitting the shelves in stores, especially when sold across state lines.

“Oh my gosh it’s going to impact us greatly,” said Co-Founder of Sun King Brewery Dave Colt. "It's not only affecting us, it's affecting every distillery in Indiana and across the country.”

With the TTB shut down, labeling of new packaged products can’t be approved. The brewery is gearing up to release an agave spirit from their newly formed distillery, but the soon to be finished product will have to wait.

"So when we manufacture it in February we’re gonna have to sit there and wait,” Colt said. "If you look at that retail, that's $25- $30 a 750 milliliter and we’re talking about cases and cases and cases of sales potential.”

Production for the tequila like drink is scheduled to begin next month, and the brewery also has a new bourbon which is also anxiously awaiting approval.

“We can't put it in a package to sell, so it’s just sitting there waiting," Colt said. When asked if the product was ready to go, Colt said "yeah, 100%.”

The labeling only applies to bottled and canned products. Sun King would be able to put any new specialty beer on tap in their taproom, but they're worried a special beer coming out in May might have to wait.

“In May we are hoping to release a package called '10- 4 Good Buddy' celebrating our 10th anniversary," Colt said. "So if the government doesn't get started soon, we can't get that label approved.”

While May is still five months away, Colt says the process to get approval usually takes a few months. The brewery would normally be putting that application in right now. However, Colt worries that every day the shutdown drags on will create a bigger backlog for the bureau once employees go back to work.

"Whatever was in queue now has just been sitting there like an unopened letter,” Colt said. "If we’ve got approaching 7,000 craft breweries in the U.S. and they all need some sort of guidance or approval from government agencies, that’s just not happening.”

As the shutdown drags on, Colt is hoping lawmakers find a solution before his business severely feels the impact.

“It just seems kinda silly that they can shut down the government which serves the people, and they are not affected by it," Colt said. "So it’s really disheartening."

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