HAMPTON — Because of the partial government shutdown several government agencies are closed, including the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Translation: Some local breweries can’t release new beer labels.
“As of today, nineteen beers submitted by me since December 20th are still in limbo waiting for review and that number will continue to grow for us every week,” Russel Tinsley, founder, majority owner and managing member of Oozlefinch Craft Brewery, wrote in an email.
Tinsley said the majority of beers are one-time brews and the brewery can’t sell any new creations outside the state until they are approved by the TTB. The brewery has invested multiple resources into developing a consumer base outside the state, specifically in Washington, D.C. and while the process is only a few months old, Tinsley still wants to deliver.
“The thought of pushing the pause button on a plan that is still in its infancy stage, and a plan that we and our distributors have expended a lot of resources on, is disheartening to say the least,” he said. “If the shutdown continues for a longer period of time, we may start to revisit some older recipes that were originally designed as one-off beers but still hold the federal approvals needed to distribute outside of Virginia.”
And Oozlefinch isn’t the only business to have problems.
The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery isn’t experiencing issues on the beer side but when it comes to the distillery, they are, said Randy Thomas, co-owner of the brewpub and distillery.
“Every new spirits product we make at the distillery requires a new label,” Thomas wrote in an email. “We have two new products that require label approval and we cannot submit the label samples for approval until TTB reopens.”
“It’s not terribly urgent at the moment.”