Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In Heaven There Is No Beer

But this is not heaven, particularly for brewers who need to get nanny state regulatory approval for beer packaging and labeling.

The government shutdown reveals a federal bureaucracy riddled by ridiculous regulatory apparatus. Brewers can't pop a top without checking in with the Treasury Department's currently shuttered Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). 

TTB Shield, View Purloined
During Government Shutdown
Tony Magee, owner of Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, Calif., posted messages on his Twitter account this week ripping the shutdown.
"(Expletive) Feds are gonna shut down the already incompetent .Gov while hundreds of small breweries, including us, have labels pending. Nice." That was followed with "Wanna regulate? Perform or get out of the way."
Lagunitas Chief Operating Officer Todd Stevenson called the TTB shutdown a "headache." He said the company was planning to submit an application to package its autumn seasonal Hairy Eyeball in 22-ounce bottles instead of 12-ounce bottles but can't move forward.
Little did we know that control freak Michael Bloomberg's beverage size control regime was already alive and well within the bowels of the federal government. Like we need to pay someone (the compensation cost for the typical federal employee is over $100K per year) to decide whether it's OK, for every brand, concocted by every brewery, to market a 22-ounce can? The boys who pick up a cold one on the way home from work can and do decide on size for themselves.

As is so typical, the regulatory regime sticks it to the little guy and favors the big businesses that Obama loves so much,
The closing isn't expected to have much effect on industry giants such as MillerCoors or Anheuser-Busch. They can continue to produce existing products as usual. But the shutdown poses a huge problem for craft brewers, who build their businesses by producing quirky, offbeat flavors and introducing new seasonal beers, sometimes as often as every quarter.
Rotators are brewery versions of the daily special. Looking ahead, don't go to your bar or bistro and expect innovation and variety, only limited selections of pre-approved packages, just like health care. You get the government you vote for.  

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