Government shutdown delays debut of new beers in Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The longer the government is shut down, the worse it gets for many people across the country. Some aren't getting paid. Others aren't able to grow their business. One of the federal agencies closed is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is affecting breweries.

Stacey and Daniel Berry are the owners of Covert Artisan Ales. They started making beer in July of last year to let it ferment and age for several months. It's been sampled and it's ready to be bottled or put in kegs. But they can't do that yet.

"It is really frustrating," Stacey Berry said.

The husband and wife have submitted their labels to the federal government, hoping to get two beers approved to start distributing. Until the government opens though, 150 gallons of those beers will sit, and that translates into thousands of dollars for the couple.

"There's always the opportunity to buy more stuff, to fill more barrels and kegs, but that's purchasing things without any sort of income coming in," she said. "Everything is coming out of our pockets right now."

So many breweries all over are trying to get their labels approved right now. Even when the government opens back up, there's going to be a stack on the TTB's desk for federal employees to go through.

"Their approval time, which is typically 7 to 11 calendar days, is at 45 days right now," Mitch Torbert said, who is the graphic designer at Fernson Brewing Company in Sioux Falls. "And that's only going to increase as time goes on."

He said the shutdown is delaying the company's beer releases for February and March.

"People enjoy going to breweries and trying the new thing and what's the new, exciting things they'll find on Hy-Vee shelves and things like that," he said. "And so it's tough in the fun part of our job, doing all these fun recipes and artwork and different things like that. It's just something we can't do."

The empty cans will sit while some people won't get paid, and the public won't be able to try new beer until the government reopens.

Some of the things the Tax and Trade Bureau is looking at before approving a label are a government warning, a statement about alcohol contents and the artwork.