Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bureaucracy is a four letter word.

So I haven't posted in a while.  I've been busy.  Unfortunately I have not been very busy doing anything that I would consider constructive.  Instead of actually building a brewery, I've been dealing with the various bureaucracies involved in building a brewery.  I knew I was going to have to deal with it at some point and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.  Still, no amount of preparation can prepare you for the mundane business end of starting a brewery.

There are two distinct areas of bureaucracy I'm dealing with at the moment.  The first deals with the whole "making alcohol legally" issue.  Funny how they just don't let you do that on your own.  There are state and federal permits that must be filled out in duplicate.  However, you can't fill out the state application until after you do the federal one.  That's where the TTB comes in.  They used to be called the ATF but after the government reshuffling that took place post 9/11 the TTB was created to handle the tax side of the ATF's functions.  The TTB is more the paper-pusher side of things as opposed to the regular ATF who are door-kicking-in kinds of folks.

So that's what I've been working on....for about three weeks straight (and off and on for a month before that), filling out the TTB Brewer's Notice.  There's a pile of forms asking every form of personal question you can think of.  You have to provide financial statements for every month in which you have spent money on the business, as well as five months prior to that purchase.  You have to get a bond to insure that the government can get their excise taxes even if you can't afford to pay them yourself.  You even have to make statements about how much garbage you will generate and what you plan to do with it (I'm not kidding).  It's a lot of stuff, but in the end it seems pretty straight forward as long as you follow the directions (which are split up amongst several different and not all that easy to find pages on the TTB website).  Thankfully I can say that as of a couple of days ago it's done!  Now we wait about three months (or more) for them to process and approve it...

Less fun so far has been the building permit process.  The brewery is an old warehouse space so of course it needs a little work.  Electrical and plumbing upgrades as well as a bathroom need to be added.  The walls need drywall.  All in all it's actually not that much work...but you still have to get a permit.  To get a permit you need stamped drawings from an architect...done.  You also have to be a city registered contractor in order to get a permit for a commercial space in Cincinnati.  That one I wasn't expecting.  So rather than pay a contractor to put up the drywall that I can put up myself, I ended up paying the fee and voila!  Blank Slate is now a city registered contractor!  Just don't call me to put an addition on your house.  I'm too busy.  Now we can finally get a building permit application filed...but then it gets rejected (which is apparently common on the first try).  So now its back to the architect for some very minor revisions.... 

Oh well, like I said I knew it was going to be this way...it still sucks though....
                                           TTB application.  Over an inch of fun fun fun...

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