As shutdown drags on, breweries feel the bite

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ROANOKE, Va (WDJB7) At Parkway Brewing Company in Salem, brew master Mike Pensinger has been working on a special project

"I can say it has apples in it and we'll just leave it at that for right now," he said with a laugh.

After plenty of time and effort, he knocked together a formula for the new beer, and is ready to begin production. There's just one problem.

"I'm on hold indefinitely," he said.

That's because of the Federal government shutdown. It's forced the closure of an obscure agency called the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

"For breweries and wineries and distilleries, we're dependent on them to approve our formulas and our labels," said Pensinger.

Typically it takes just a few weeks to get TTB approval, either for a new beer formula, or bottle label. But with this shutdown dragging on indefinitely, new wines, beers, and spirits are in limbo. And since the TTB processes hundreds of thousands of labels and formulas annually, brewers like Pensinger are concerned about what's going to happen once the bureau reopens.

"There's gonna be backlog, cause everybody's sitting waiting for stuff," he said.

Smaller brewers are avoiding many of these problems.

"We don't do anything, we don't distribute, we're all in house sales," said Ken McGraw.

McGraw is co-owner of A Few Old Goats Brewing in Roanoke. His beer isn't bottled, and isn't sold out of state, meaning he's safe from the impacts of the shutdown.

"Yeah we're not feeling anything," he said.

But for those who are feeling it, like Mike Pensinger, it's a serious inconvenience.

And as a result, he has a message for politicians of all stripes: "I think everybody needs to get back to work," he said.