Local craft beer brewers in the Lehigh Valley may find themselves impacted by the current government shutdown. Why would this particular group be affected by the shutdown? It is due to a little known arm of the U.S. Treasury Department; the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
This group not only handles the federal taxes levied on alcohol and tobacco and will continue that process, but they also approve the permits for new breweries, recipes and labels; which is on hold. Industry giants, Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, will continue to offer their wares; but new offerings, which most are from the rapidly growing craft brewers segment, is now in limbo.
Often craft brewers such as Easton's Two Rivers Brewing Co. and the Weyerbacher Brewing Co., as well as the Brew Works in Allentown and associated Fegley's Brew Works in Bethlehem, rely on having new, quirky, off-beat specialized beers every quarter, based on seasons, or for the upcoming holidays.
With the government shutdown, anyone who did not have their applications in the pipeline by mid-August, can expect to have any new offering delayed indefinitely. If the shutdown is over quickly, local brewers may still need to rush their new craft brews to the marketplace.
With an average 75 day waiting period to process an application, anyone seeking to open a micro-brewery, likely won't see it happen this year.
Which basically means that craft brewers, which were already under pressure from the larger corporate breweries, now have something else to worry about.