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Shutdown brews up trouble for Vt. breweries, distilleries - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shutdown brews up trouble for Vt. breweries, distilleries

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MORRISVILLE, Vt. -

"We've been in the process of putting together the distillery for about two years now," Chuck Burkins said.

Two years of hard work for the up-and-coming Appalachian Gap Distillery, which was supposed to start production this fall.

"We were really hoping that we were going to get our coffee liquor and coffee whiskey out by the end of the year. I think at this point that's looking really unlikely," Burkins said.

Any products they sell have to have formulas and labels that are approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. But: "Just as I'm getting ready to put in my coffee liqueur formulation, the website goes down," Burkins said.

No new labels or formulas are being approved during the government shutdown. All Burkins can do is test their coffee liqueur and wait.

"When you're starting up a business, early sales are important," Burkins said.

It isn't just startups that are affected, though. Even seasonal beers from established breweries are on hold while the shutdown continues, meaning that until the government does something, this beer won't leave the barrel.

"We have a beautiful barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout coming up and that is waiting for both the label and the formula to be approved by the federal government," said Matt Nadeau of Rock Art Brewery.

Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville wanted their winter seasonal beer on the shelves next month. Now, they could be looking at December or January.

There are about 2,500 craft brewers in the U.S. and this shutdown leaves innovation in part of a $1.5 billion industry on hold.

"They're supposed to be approving our labels within a reasonable amount of time, yet they're still open to accept our tax payments and they're expecting our tax payments on time," Nadeau said.

And he says unless their elected officials step up and fix the problem, all they can do is sit and wait and hope their seasonal sales don't go flat.

We spoke with the Vermont Grape & Wine Council; they told us that because bottling at wineries typically doesn't happen until around May, they won't need labels approved until early next year and they aren't being affected yet.

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