The US Hits More Setbacks

Grind for January 15th, 2019
“Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

Buzz Kill

The Headline

How the government shutdown is affecting the beer industry

The Grind

A few days ago we discussed a variety of ways the government shutdown is impacting the lives of Americans. Here’s another one:

American beer makers like Boston Beer Co. (maker of Sam Adams) have been forced to shut off their taps as they wait for federal approval to bottle and sell new labels and formulas.

Approval comes from the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and the Treasury is one of nine federal departments currently without funding.

When the shutdown ends, the TTB could face a several-month backlog in approval requests.

According to Boston Beer founder Jim Koch, the slowdown could cost America’s beer companies tens of millions of dollars. “We are trying to drink as much of this paralyzed beer as we can,” he joked. “The only thing we can do is drown our sorrows.”

The Details

The shutdown is even more painful for craft beer companies, which depend heavily on new releases to drive sales.

Take Oklahoma brewer Prairie Artisan Ales, which is sitting on $500,000 of a new chocolate stout called “Oh! Fudge.” The new beer had been expected to provide about 60% of first-quarter revenue for the small company, which has only 75 employees.

“We’re making seasonal products that can’t be released in the appropriate season,” complains Jeff Mickel, whose cider company Argus is waiting on federal approval for a new hard cider. “Our barrels are full. The new releases have to be delayed until the tanks are emptied.”

Meanwhile, Boston Beer is unable to move forward with plans to update the recipe for its Sam Adams Summer Ale and to introduce a new brew made with Himalayan salt.

It’s also waiting for federal approval to labels dozens of new beers, some of which can’t even be moved from their tanks because Boston doesn’t have approval for the labels on the kegs.

On Wednesday the shutdown will reach day 27.

Murphy’s Law

The Headline

GoFundMe says it will return all money raised for border wall

The Grind

On December 16th, Brian Kolfage started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for President Trump’s border wall.

“Eight days before Christmas I started this GoFundMe campaign because I was tired of watching the US government’s inability to secure our southern border,” said Kolfage, an Army vet and triple amputee who was severely injured during the war in Iraq.

On Monday the government shutdown reached day 25.

“Like most Americans, I see the porous southern border as a national security threat and I refuse to allow our broken political system to leave my family and my country vulnerable to attack.”

The Details

When Kolfage started the campaign, he promised donors their money would go directly to the federal government. On Friday, he announced the money would instead go to a nonprofit called “We Build the Wall, Inc.”

The change violated the rules of the website, and GoFundMe said it had to return all the donations.

“If a donor does not want a refund, and they want their donation to go to the new organization, they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization,” explained GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne. “If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.

Kolfage on Friday claimed GoFundMe wasn’t actually refunding the money: “The media is falsely reporting all money is being refunded and it’s over. They are WRONG. WE ARE BUILDING THE WALL and you can STILL donate or opt-in if you donated before January 11th TO SUPPORT the plans.”

Kolfage’s goal was to raise $1 billion. As of Saturday, the site had raised over $20 million.

Did you know… Denver, Colorado, USA now has more marijuana dispensaries than it does Starbucks.