Orange County is a prime location for new breweries due to the wealth of vacant commercial space and the ever-growing beer scene–we all know this. However, because of October's government shutdown, Orange County breweries have had their plans delayed and in some cases even cancelled.
Bottle Logic and Beach City Brewery are two of the new operations that have been affected. Because the shutdown closed a small branch of the US Treasury known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), both breweries' plans are now all sorts of screwed.
The TTB approves permits and new labels for the beer industry. While it was closed, no new breweries could be opened and no new beers could be approved.
“Our bottled beers will be affected due to the label submission delays,” said Steve Napolitano, president of Bottle Logic Brewing, an Anaheim brewery that highlights the science and chemistry behind beer. “We have already needed to remove several brews from the 2013 calendar including a very tasty pumpkin spice beer.”
The government shutdown began on Oct. 1 and ended roughly three weeks later on Oct. 17.
The shutdown affected more than just timing, however. Breweries were still required to pay excise taxes, as well as pay rent, electricity, payroll and loans.
“The delay in opening has cost us well over $20,000,” said Napolitano.
But while Bottle Logic is already brewing, Beach City Brewing, a Huntington Beach-based operation, has yet to begin. Their Brewer's Notice forms to the TTB sat ignored in Washington while they waited to start their business in Orange County.
Bottle Logic had scheduled to open their tasting room in mid-November while Beach City planned to open their brewery in mid-December. Both Beach City and Bottle Logic were forced to push their opening dates about a month.
Even well-established breweries in Orange County struggled during the shutdown. The Bruery had been releasing a seasonal winter beer for the past five years themed around the Christmas song “Twelve Days of Christmas.” According to The Bruery's Director of Marketing, Benjamin Weiss, Santa will come late this year.
“The TTB shutdown put a halt in their label approvals which has delayed the release of this year's winter ale since we always have new beers each winter — this year being 6 Geese-a-Laying,” said Weiss.
Although the delay caused a major setback for Beach City, they decided to make the most of what they had.
“We're trying to make the best of it so we're gonna host a 'home brew day' on Nov. 2,” said Glenn Closson, owner of Beach City Brewery. “Since we can't brew our own beer, we're inviting people who can legally brew their beer and teach people to home brew on our site.”
To Closson's surprise, the TTB called the morning of Oct. 24, eight days after the end of the shutdown, to inform him that Beach City Brewery's Brewer's Notice had been approved, and that they could officially start moving forward.
Bottle Logic still remains in limbo, however. Although they received a call the day after the end of the shutdown, their Brewer's Notice has yet to be cleared by the TTB. While they're hopeful that someone in the department is looking at their file, Napolitano is eagerly waiting for the go ahead to start serving their product.
“We have all our equipment in place, the recipes are finalized, and our future customers are begging us daily for beer,” said Napolitano. “We just can't legally brew it and provide it until the TTB permits and label approvals (for bottles) are completed.”