Connecticut

Beer is the latest government shutdown victim

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) - As the partial federal government shutdown continues, some businesses are finding it impossible to get the regulatory approvals they need to put out new products

The Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield is one of dozens of Connecticut microbreweries trying to stand out in a crowded market.

"All of us little breweries are always trying to innovate with new product," said Hooker Brewery president Curt Cameron. "Some of us come out with new beers weekly or monthly."

Each of those new beers has to have its label approved by a federal agency you've probably never heard of, the federal alcohol and tobacco tax and trade bureau. 

"That miniscule agency is responsible for approving labels for all beer products," said Connecticut's senior U.S. Senator, Richard Blumenthal on a visit to the Hooker Brewery. "They make sure that the products are safe to consume."

But the miniscule agency is now part of the big government shutdown. With no label approval, Connecticut breweries can't do what they do best, which is invent new beers and expand their product lines.

"They create new products, they need labels approved by this agency," Blumenthal explained. "They hire more people, they need approvals from this agency."

If and when the government shutdown ends, there will then be a backlog with every brewery in the nation looking for label approval, which could hurt Hooker's business even more.

"Labels that we have in for, let's say a spring seasonal coming out, won't be approved, possibly, until the middle of summer," Cameron said.

Small brewers view their beer tanks as valuable real estate. If there is a new beer sitting in a tank that they can't bottle and sell because they're waiting for a label, that is a waste of that real estate. If it sits there too long, they have to pour the beer down the drain. Now that's a waste. 


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