SOUTH DEERFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – The government shutdown has officially entered its 10th day and soon it may hit Americans at the package store. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau (TTB) has been closed down for the duration of the shutdown and that is impacting the billion dollar beer brewing industry.
As the company enters its 19th year, Berkshire Brewing Company has plenty of experience with the TTB.
“When you’re into the brewing industry, you basically have no choice but to buy into the government regulations. I mean you really have to play by the rules,” explains Gary Bogoff, President and CEO of Berkshire Brewing Company.
The agency has to approve new breweries, recipes and even labels for breweries across the country, and the shutdown has the potential to hit BBC hard.
They submitted the label for their seasonal holiday ale just before the government shutdown. Now the application which usually takes 2-3 weeks to process is in limbo. And the TTB doesn’t always accept a first submission of a design.
“It’s amazing how finicky they can be. We used on this holiday label years ago we said ‘brewed with delight by Berkshire Brewing Company’ and they questioned what kind of ingredient delight was,” Bogoff told us.
Berkshire Brewing Company has taken a gamble and already had their label printed. If they didn’t they would miss their holiday window entirely. As it is, if they don’t receive approval on this application by the end of October, they won’t even be able to ship the beer to 5 of the 6 states they sell it in.
Luckily they’ve kept their label almost identical to those they’ve had approved in past years. Still, the shutdown has the potential to slash their revenue on beer popular seasonal ale. And while breweries are stuck in a holding pattern, the TTB is still collecting taxes from these breweries. Taxes that they need to report on every two weeks.
“If any business owner was as irresponsible as these people are, they’d be out of business,” said Bogoff. “None of my customers would put up with the nonsense that they’re dragging out. And the people who are suffering the most are really the people who need the government the most.
The closing of the TTB isn’t expected to have an impact on the larger industry brewers. But for some microbreweries, it could mean missing out on seasonal beers that have become increasingly popular with consumers.