Government shutdown leaves brewpub without brews

RICK NELSON | Updated 10/16/2013

Brewers’ licenses are issued by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which has been closed since Oct. 1.

Partisan gridlock is threatening new craft brews.
Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii

When the Blue Plate Restaurant Co. was launching the Lowry (2112 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.thelowryuptown.com) in 2011, the state government shutdown delayed the opening by three expensive weeks.

“A license was sitting on someone’s desk,” said co-owner Stephanie Shimp.

Now the partial federal government shutdown is putting a wrench in plans for the Freehouse (701 Washington Av. N., Mpls.), the company’s North Loop restaurant and brew pub, set to open in early December. Brewmaster Tim Piotrowski was hoping to start making beer — he’ll feature six varieties at a time — next week.

There’s just one problem: Brewers’ licenses are issued by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which has been closed since Oct. 1.

So, no brewing, although the equipment is at the ready (including a new North Loop landmark, a distinctive grain silo, just outside the front door). Until the government reopens, the company continues to work on contingency plans.

“We’ve been reaching out to some of our friends in the industry to see if they’re able to contract brew for us,” said Shimp. “Opening a brew pub without your own beer isn’t exactly ideal.”