The government shutdown has had wide ranging effects—causing all sorts of problems at national parks, for example—and the list of issues continues to grow as the shutdown enters its third week. Gridlock in Washington, it turns out, can even affect the kinds of craft beer you’ll be able to find this year. That’s because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB for short) is not processing labels and permits for new beers or new breweries, CNN reports.
Breweries can’t operate without a permit from the TTB, so that means up-and-coming brewhouses will have to wait until the agency is back online before selling any beer. Even after the government reopens, the delays could continue because of the backlog of applications it has to process, the Brewers Association reports.
“It could delay some brewery openings once the shutdown is lifted,” Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, told CNN.
That could put a damper on the rapidly growing craft brewery movement in the United States. In its year-end report, the Brewers Association highlighted the number of stateside independent brewing companies surged past 7,000 in 2018. That’s an estimated gain of around 1,000 new breweries in only one year.
But it’s not just breweries that are being held up by the shutdown; new kinds of beer are in limbo, too. The TTB must approve brews before they can be released to you to drink, and the ongoing shutdown means no new brews can get the green light for public consumption.
“If the shutdown goes on for an extended time,” Gatza told CNN, “beer drinkers won’t see much in the way of innovative new brands on the shelves where they buy beer.”
So if you’re looking for the best suds of 2019, you’ll need to have some patience. Fortunately, there’s plenty of good stuff to drink while you wait.