It’s a glorious time to be a beer drinker in the United States, which has seen an explosion of new breweries churning out some of the most delicious beverages this tongue has ever tasted.
It’s honestly insane how much things have changed over the past decade, as I can still remember a time when Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams were really your only option if you wanted to dip your toes into the world of craft beer (I can’t even describe how much my mind was blown the first time I tried Heady Topper).
In recent years, craft beer has become increasingly localized and drinkers have become increasingly spoiled thanks to the smaller breweries who are attempting to push the boundaries of what beer can be.
Many of these places are constantly experimenting and pumping out an absurd number of unique beers in the process. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of Other Half in Brooklyn, which introduced the world to 125 different brews in 2018 (much to the dismay of my wallet and liver).
However, there’s some trouble currently brewing (sorry) in the craft beer world thanks to the government shutdown, which is making life more difficult for craft breweries with each passing day.
If you want to produce booze on a commercial level in America, you’ll have to deal with the succinctly named Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (which thankfully has an acronym in the form of “TTB”).
Any brewery that wants to distribute a beer across state lines must comply with a number of federal regulations and submit all label designs and recipes brewed with certain ingredients to the TTB for review (they’re also responsible for approving the opening of new breweries).
Larger breweries won’t really be impacted by the shutdown, as none of them are really producing new beers at the rate many of the little guys are.
However, it could have a major impact on some smaller brewers who rely on a steady stream of new releases to lure in craft beer drinkers, many of whom are constantly searching for new brews so they can get some sweet, sweet badges on Untappd.
Brooklyn’s Interboro recently shed some light on how the shutdown is negatively impacting business and noted they’re also concerned about the ever-increasing backlog the TTB will have to address when the shutdown ends (brewers can continue to submit applications but there’s currently no one reviewing them).
Are we going to experience a massive craft beer shortage because of the shutdown? Probably not, but we could feel some repercussions in the future depending on how long the current stalemate lasts.
Maybe Congress should try to settle things over a cold one.