Breweries, wineries in Indiana taking financial hit due to government shutdown

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PERU, Ind. — Breweries, wineries and distilleries in Indiana and Michigan are experiencing delays — and taking a financial hit — because some permits are not being issued due to the partial federal government shutdown.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issues permits that allow businesses to open, craft a new beer or wine, or create labeling for a product. That agency is currently closed.

Some businesses have delayed opening while they wait for permits from the agency. Jason McKeever has been waiting to launch City Wineworks in Peru, Indiana, since he signed a building lease in September. The business has the permits to make and sell beer, but it’s still waiting on permits to make and sell wine.

“It’s extremely frustrating, because our money going out doesn’t stop,” McKeever said. “We still have to pay our lease and utility bills. But there’s no money coming in. It’s a little stressful — and a lot scary.”

Others business owners have delayed launching new recipes as they wait for formulas to be approved. Jack Sramek, the head brewer at Tin Man Brewing in Kokomo, Indiana, planned to test new beers featuring hibiscus and hemp.

“If it keeps up like this, it looks like we won’t be able to make it for a while . I’ll just have to keep this in my back pocket and wait to brew them,” Sramek said.

And once the bureau reopens, there will likely be a backlog of applications to be processed, which has businesses owners worried, including Jeff Lemon, a partner at Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

“They’re already somewhat short-handed,” Lemon said. “There’s been a lot of new wineries and breweries, not just in Michigan but across the country. I think they’ve been pretty maxed out with their staff and this obviously is going to get them behind a little more.”

The shutdown started Dec. 21 after President Donald Trump refused to sign a bill that would have fully funded the government because it didn’t include $5.7 million for a border wall.

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