BRISTOL - The couple behind Better Half Brewing are still working on renovating the microbreweryâ€™s North Main Street location and expecting brewing equipment to arrive soon from Oregon.
The biggest obstacle to their goal of opening by early April is the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Things were going pretty smoothly for a new business, said Rachel Haseltine. She and her husband, Michael, are working to get their microbrewery going at 59 N. Main St., in the old CVS building.
At the beginning of November, they applied for their license to brew beer and serve it to the public from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the Treasury Department known as the TTB.
â€śThere is usually a pretty long wait period for the license, and we heard from the TTB toward the end of December that they just needed a few changes in our application,â€ť Haseltine said. â€śThen the government suddenly shut down right after that, so thereâ€™s no one there to call to talk to there about how to get those changes made. We need to open before we can move forward.â€ť
The Haseltines had originally planned to open their microbrewery in the old Bristol Press building, at 99 Main St., last summer before switching to the formerNorth Main Street CVS.
â€śEverything has just worked out in our favor so far, so weâ€™re just hoping it all works out for the best and weâ€™ll be able to open when weâ€™re ready,â€ť Haseltine said.
â€śSo weâ€™re continuing to do everything that we can on our end, so when the government is open again weâ€™ll be able to continue with the process,â€ť she added.
However, she is aware that applications for new breweries and for new beer labels from existing breweries are probably piling up at the TTB.
â€śI know our license was assigned to somebody, so itâ€™s on somebodyâ€™s desk,â€ť she said. â€śI havenâ€™t spoken to that person yet because of the shutdown, but weâ€™re hoping that once theyâ€™re allowed to go back to work weâ€™ll be able to contact them and be able to move through the process.â€ť
However, if their application process doesnâ€™t get moving by February, there could problems.
â€śWe have to start paying on our equipment by then, so thatâ€™s why we were hoping to be open in April so we could start getting revenue coming in,â€ť Haseltine said. â€śWe have to pay rent on our facility too. Luckily, the owner has been very accommodating for us but people can only be understanding for so long.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re trying to be as optimistic as possible, but we feel bad for everybody who is out of a job, and for other breweries that have product but canâ€™t get labels to send it out,â€ť she said. â€śSo we encourage everybody to go to their local brewery because you can get their beer there even if they canâ€™t send it out to you.â€ť
Any microbrewery that has labels that are already approved can serve and sell their beer, Haseltine noted.
â€śSmall breweries are always experimenting with different flavors, different ingredients, that all needs to be approved by the TTB. Thatâ€™s one of my favorite things, actually, about brewing is the experimenting and thatâ€™s at a complete standstill because they canâ€™t anything approved to be sent out.â€ť
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or email@example.com.