Government shutdown impacting craft breweries

By: Hilary Magacs Email
By: Hilary Magacs Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Saw Works Brewing Company is busy making beer like always, but don't expect any new brews while the government is shut down.

"We're at a point where we want to start developing new styles of beer. And for right now, we have to table those discussions because we don't know when we can expect to be able to file paperwork. So as far as developing new beers right now, it's not an option for us," said Adam Palmer, president of Saw Works Brewing Company.

- or for any microbrewery. That's because the federal government requires them to register new recipies with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

"We may not have a new beer ready today, but if we want to have a new beer ready in the next couple of months, everything gets delayed. And with delays like that, it's lost revenue. And it's lost revenue that we can't afford to lose right now," said Palmer.

Another problem? Trying to expand beer sales across state lines - that also requires federal paperwork.

"The double chocolate porter - we produced it last year and we'll be doing that again. And because we did it last year in Tennessee, we're okay. But we have not made that beer and distributed it to North Carolina yet," said Palmer.

Palmer said the new Tupelo Honey restaurant in Charlotte wants to add the double chocolate porter to its menu, but because Saw Works isn't sure it will get approval to distribute the beer in North Carolina, it might get left out. That would be a blow to business.

"We'll miss out. We won't be able to have that beer in that location at all. And we'll have to wait until our spring seasonal is ready. And that's if we can get those approvals done in time," said Palmer.

A frustrating waiting game for Saw Works and all microbreweries.

Saw Works is the only microbrewery in Knoxville. The shutdown isn't affecting brew pubs like Black Horse Pub and Brewery, Smoky Mountain Brewery or the Downtown Grill and Brewery because they don't distribute their beers.

Those hoping to start up new breweries are out of luck though - that also requires federal paperwork.

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