Label liability: Govt. shutdown delays new bottles of beer - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Label liability: Govt. shutdown delays new bottles of beer

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CORALVILLE (KWWL) - Backpocket Brewing opened in Coralville last year. As a new business, there's plenty of obstacles to overcome.

O
ne that the co-founders didn't see coming was the federal shutdown.

"New packaging products require label approval," said Jake Simmons, brewmaster. "Label approval is done by the federal government."
 
Employees with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a branch of the Treasury Department, were furloughed when the shutdown began -- meaning no one was in the office to approve Backpocket's new beers.

Backpocket can still create new beers and sell them in kegs. They just can't get the approval for the labels to be able to sell the beers in bottles. That's about 50% of their business.

Regularly coming out with new beers is what keeps microbreweries afloat, drawing in new customers and bringing regulars like Pat Randall back for more.

"My grandson comes with me and my daughter," said Randall, who lives in Coralville. "I bring all my family here when they're in town."

Brewmasters say getting new labels approved wasn't a quick process before the shutdown, so it may take a while after the shutdown ends for the government to catch up.

"My guess is there'll be lots of breweries and it will be a first come, first serve kind of a thing," said Simmons.

The TTB also approves new brewery licenses. Lion Bridge Brewing, which plans to open in Cedar Rapids next year, says they don't expect to be delayed.
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