New labels, permitting on hold for craft breweries during shutdown

TACOMA, Wash. -- Local craft brewers are among those feeling the effect of the partial government shutdown.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, commonly known as the TTB, is responsible for issuing permits and approving new labels and packaging for companies involved in the production and distribution of alcohol.

During the shutdown, they will not be reviewing or approving any new submissions.

“We’ve got probably five or six new beers that we were planning on putting out next year,” Ken Thoburn of Wingman Brewers in Tacoma said. “A lot of other breweries are in the same position, where we’re waiting on these label approvals before we are allowed to sell our product.”

Thoburn says the closure has also put the brewery’s plan to expand to Lakewood on hold.

He said the process was already facing delays because of paperwork issues before the shutdown, but now they are in complete limbo.

“It’s been kind of a snowball effect for us,” he said.

They had planned on about a 70-day timeline for the permitting to be approved for the new facility, based on what the TTB website said.

Now it is on hold indefinitely.

“We’re paying rent on that facility,” Thoburn said. “We’re paying for the equipment that’s in there that can’t be utilized without a license.”

In a statement on its website, the TTB says once funding has been restored, they will resume regular service as soon as possible.

The national Brewers Association warns that once happens, however, there will likely be a backlog.

“It’s not something that we could really have planned for,” Thoburn said.

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