Government shutdown shutting off the tap to some area craft beer businesses

Can't get licenses approved


Tom Williams decided three years ago he wanted to own a microbrewery. "Florida is really exploding craft beer wise," Tom said.


Along with his wife and a few others, St. Pete Brewing Company went from an idea on paper to an old historic building in downtown St. Petersburg. 


Tom filed papers to get his license to brew beer on August 20th, with the anticipation of being able to open the St. Pete Brewing Company mid-November.


That's all on hold now. The people who decide if Tom gets a license, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, closed because of the government shutdown. "It's very frustrating to be caught up in this when we've already gone through so much to get this place open to have to wait for bureaucrats up in Washington who aren't playing well with each other," Tom said.


It's also not playing well with other breweries across the country like the Fortnight Brewing Company in Cary, North Carolina. "It's been a long year. And to hit this hurdle is very frustrating," Dave Wilkinson said. He is the Vice President of Fortnight Brewing Company.


Along with approving licenses, the T.T.B also decides if new beer recipes and labels can be tapped. Meaning some new and seasonal beers many never make their way into a glass. "Beer's got a finite shelf life, so these guys can't get a label, can't see the beer. It's going to go stale," Stuart Arnold, President of Fortnight Brewing Company said. "They're going to have to throw it away. Potentially for even the established breweries it could cost a lot of money."


"They're frustrated I'm sure because they can't get their pumpkin ales out and their fall great beers, we're in a situation where we can't get a beer made here," Tom said.


It usually takes about 82 days for a license to be approved. If the government shutdown ends with in a week or so Tom believes his license will be granted on time and the St. Pete Brewing Company can open as scheduled.


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