Government shutdown affecting local brewers

January 18, 2019 10:57 PM

The partial government shutdown is preventing some new businesses from opening. Local brewers say they can't get the permits they need because the bureau overseeing the process is closed.

The cofounders of Arbeiter Brewing Company hope to transform a space along Minnehaha Ave.

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“Our vision is to bring people from the community, and around, to enjoy a nice beer after a hard day’s work,” said Juno Choi, cofounder.

He said they would like to have 12 beers on tap and make sodas and kombucha.

The shutdown, however, has created some uncertainty.

“It definitely puts us in a place where we don’t want to be,” Choi said.

He said they are waiting for the Small Business Association to reopen so they can submit their loan application.

“If it gets delayed too much further, that could put some pressure on the cash situation,” cofounder Josh Voeltz said.

Voeltz and Choi said they planned to open the taproom in July.

“It’s pretty important we open our doors while it's still warm out so we can take advantage of our outdoor seating and opening the doors up and getting the most amount of people here as possible,” Voeltz said. “It's going to be pretty important for cash flow going into the winter, when business is usually a little slower.”


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Entrepreneurs also face another hurdle opening a brewery. The Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade (TTB) is closed so brewer permits aren’t being processed.

“We’re still waiting for the most crucial permit that we need,” said Nik Proehl.

 

Nik and Angie Proehl are converting their Mankato bar into a brewpub called Minn’Ohana Brewery.

They told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS there was already a permit backlog before the shutdown. They still expected their permit in December.

“You cannot sell any beer you produced to anybody without that piece of paper,” said Nik Proehl.

They hoped to re-open in mid-February.

“Now with every day that goes by, that pushes us another day back,” he said.

The delay is affecting the construction that was planned. There are also employees waiting to work.

“We can't do anything, we legally can't move on with our purpose,” said Angie Proehl.

The shutdown is also affecting the more than 150 breweries already operating around the state.

“If you're distributing across state lines, those have labels for the product and label approval is from the TTB,” said Erin Johnsen, an attorney with Hop Law. “There are breweries that are trying to get their seasonal beers out the door that just have to sit on them. They can't sell that beer because they don’t have the label approval.”

Johnsen said challenges could remain even after the government reopens.

“We don’t know what those processing timelines are going to look like,” she said.

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Callan Gray

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