Maine's cold ones have been iced during the federal government shutdown. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is closed during the stalemate in Washington D.C. Its website says, "submissions will not be reviewed or approved until appropriations are enacted."

Breweries that distribute beer out-of-state have to register that label and name with the federal government, according to the Maine Brewers' Guild. In Maine, alcohol is regulated by the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations and at the federal level by the TTB.

Rising Tide beer cans

Rising Tide in Portland told NEWS CENTER Maine any new releases for the spring and for the summer are now in jeopardy.

"Before the shutdown, it was taking about a week to ten days to get that approval for new brands," said Heather Sanborn, the co-owner of Rising Tide. "After the shutdown ends, when it ends, it will be at least 45 days and it will continue to extend as long as the shutdown goes on.”

Sanborn says they sell a significant amount of beer in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If the TTB remains closed while their new products are pending, it may affect financing for research and development for beers that remain in Maine.

Steel drum used for brewing at Rising Tide in Portland
Steel tank used for brewing at Rising Tide in Portland

Allagash Brewing Co. and Definitive Brewing are in similar regulatory restrictions.

This isn't the first government shutdown affecting local breweries. In 2013, Rising Tide was in the process of securing a loan through the Small Business Administration.

"We got caught up in that in 2013 as well," said Sanborn. "We were applying for a loan and we didn’t know how long it would be delayed in the approval process. That can be a real tough thing for a small business that is just getting started.”

Sean Sullivan from the Maine Brewers' Guild says a delay in SBA-backed loans may mean brewers will not be ready for the summer season.

"If they can't get their approval, they can't brew beer, which means they can't make money," said Sullivan. "It's at that critical lifecycle in a new business where they are trying to get up-and-running, to get some cash flow to start paying down the debt. Honestly, it could bankrupt a brewery."

Every day the government stays shut down during the winter, it could potentially affect the launch timelines for craft brews in Maine in the summer.