Virginia breweries in limbo as shutdown continues

Posted at 4:38 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 17:35:43-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The brewing equipment sits unused inside of Elation Brewing on Colley Avenue as the government shutdown is preventing the brewery from starting to make beer.

"We were ready to go. We thought we'd be open by now," said Kenny Vanhook, one of the owners. "It's frustrating sitting and waiting not being able to do what we wanted." 

The brewery needs approval from the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), but because of the government shutdown the agency isn't operating. For now, they still don't know when they'll open their doors for the first time.

"We are trying to hire staff. We don't know when to tell them their start date. We don't know when to tell them they can start getting their paycheck," Vanhook said.

Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Wednesday in an effort to request more information on how many breweries are facing similar obstacles.

"It is hard enough for these craft brewers to operate a business, and the shuttering of the TTB is yet another example of how the Administration's shutdown is making it harder for American business owners," the senators wrote.

Other breweries have faced obstacles in getting approval for new labels, which is having a big impact on their bottom lines.

As the shutdown reaches 33 days, Vanhook says he has an idea to get everyone to the bargaining table. "I wish we could all get along now and have a beer," he said.

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