A local brewer has $12K of new beer stuck in a tank because of the government shutdown

Breweries and beer drinkers are among those feeling the impact of the partial government shutdown.

Breweries not only must apply for a permit and garner approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before they can start operations, they must get new beers approved through the TTB before they can make them available to the public. That is one of the offices shuttered during the shutdown.

Those processes have been put on hold, which could delay of the opening of some new breweries and the flow of new brands to shelves.

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The shutdown is affecting Monroe-based Rivertown Brewing Company, which “launches new beers all the time,” according to founder and owner and brewmaster Jason Roeper.

New brews created there can be sold in the Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House taproom but not bottled for sale until the TTB signs off on labeling. That means a batch made for Dayton-based brewery Nowhere in Particular remains in limbo inside of Rivertown’s tanks.

“I’ve got a big investment just sitting there that I can’t get a label approval for,” Roeper said. “We had submitted everything before the shutdown happened and there’s a wait period.

“We’re stuck with about $12,000 sitting in our tank that we can’t do anything with,” he said.

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The government shutdown also means breweries that use anything beyond the four basic ingredients — grain, hops, yeast and water — also must wait to file for federal formula approval before they can sell their beers.

Once the federal government reopens, the backlog is likely to lead to a “very, very long waitlist” because many breweries are vying for the same approval, Roeper said.

Approximately 60 to 70 percent of what Rivertown produces is packaged, and the remainder goes into draft, he said. The bulk of the actual business is what’s sold in its Monroe taproom. However, it does “ship quite a bit of volume,” between 20 to 25 percent, out of state.

If the shutdown continues, it’s likely to impact Rivertown’s new brews, and with it, new opportunities, Roeper said.

“Without that approval, we just don’t want to take the financial risk,” he said. “We’re pretty much shut down on that side. Just like the government’s shut down, we’re shut down.”

A continued shutdown also is likely to affect brewery workers.

“I’m shifting work around to keep them busy but, from the same token, the longer this goes on, it’s going to impact workers,” he said. “You can’t have them sit there and not be able to pay for their salaries.”

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