Shutdown pulls the tap on craft breweries from releasing new beers in cans

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The shutdown of the federal government has impacted parks, non-profits, airports and even local craft breweries.

Wrightsville Beach Brewery had its specialty beer in kegs and the label designs all together by mid-December.

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“We’ve got the recipe dialed in. We’ve ordered all the grain, we’ve ordered all the hops we’re ready to go with it,” said owner and head brewer Jud Watkins.

When they went to get the OK from federal regulators to can the beer, they ran into a road block.

“We’re all looking at the design, and it looks great,” Watkins said. “We’re like, ‘Man, this is a really cool looking can. It’s going to be a good thing. Wait the website is down.'”



The Tax and Trade Bureau is closed up, unable to process any approvals for new canned beer. Now the race against time is fermenting a change of course for brewmasters.

“Our plan was to make this the way we really get the word out about the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance,” Watkins said. “And a beer that we all worked on together. So now we’re going to be a bit more restricted if the government shutdown doesn’t end soon, because we will only be able to sell it in our taprooms. We’re not going to have the ability to can it and send it out.”

Fortunately they have a few weeks before the beer has to come out. Watkins knows, however, that the clock is ticking.

“We can’t just sit around on this beer. We can’t leave it in a tank forever,” Watkins said. “We’ve got other beers we need to make. Time is of the essence.”

He says their window to can it closes in about 10 to 12 days. Regardless, they plan to share the beers however they can with customers.

“One not being in the can is not going to be the end of the day for us,” said Watkins confident the dozens of beer offerings they share and their original line up can bring plenty of regular customers back in.

The brewery kicks off two years in operation this weekend and plans to celebrate it with specialty servings of their beer. Watkins says the support that’s got them through these years makes this slow down from the shutdown not a major hurt to their bottom line, but mostly a major inconvenience.