Lapse in government funding could hit Wichita brewer

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WICHITA, Kan. The lapse in government funding for one federal agency may force a Wichita brewer to miss out on about 75 percent of its customer base.

Craft beer fans of at least one Wichita based brewer, Wichita Brewing Company, will be getting a more limited release than they expected due to complications affiliated with the partial government shutdown.

Wichita Brewing Company co-owner Jeremy Horn says the first release of the company's barrel-aged sour scicilia was a hit and it hopes its new-release scicilia 2 will be as well.

But there's a snag.

"Because we've changed the label enough, we have to get approval of that label by the tax and trade bureau, which is our federal regulator" Horn says. "Well, the tax and trade bureau is closed."

The tax and trade bureau is responsible for giving the go-ahead for the design and wording of a beer's label.

"We can still get approval from the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control for the label and sell it inside the state, but we can't sell it to the rest of our market," Horn says.

The rest of the market for the Wichita Brewing Company includes Wyoming, Missouri and Oklahoma.

"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from our Oklahoma wholesaler wanting that beer," Horn says of its new release. "They're wanting to bring that in, so that will be the biggest negative impact."

Horn says the company will release its latest beer (scicilia 2) as planned, but it can only do so in Kansas if the shutdown continues. That means that craft beer aficionados may have to take a road trip to get a taste of a new release brewed in another state.

"It's kind of neat now, we have people coming (from out of state) to search out something that was brewed here unlike before, it was always something from Colorado or something from New Mexico or something like that," Horn says.

Because the agency that approves labels will have a backlog when the partial government shutdown ends, Horn says it could still take weeks to get approval for the scicilia 2.