Federal government shutdown delays opening of Shawnee Mission area microbreweries

Sandhills Brewing Company is delayed in opening a microbrewery in downtown Mission.

The federal government shutdown might be over, but new businesses are still feeling the effects.

The owners of Sandhills Brewing Company, a microbrewery coming to downtown Mission, have been delayed in obtaining a brewing license from the federal government. The federal production license, called a brewer’s notice, gives the company permission to begin brewing and also begins the process for the brewery to obtain a state license to operate.

Breweries are prohibited by law from brewing on site until they’ve obtained permission from the federal government.

Charles Williamson (left) and Jonathan Williamsom are bringing a brewery and taproom to Johnson Drive in Mission. Photo credit Sandhills Brewery.

The process already takes several weeks or even a few months, but the shutdown that began Dec. 22 and ended 35 days later — the longest in American history — could end up significantly delaying the Mission microbrewery’s opening date.

Jonathan Williamson, one of the co-owners of Sandhills Brewing, said the shutdown has delayed the brewery opening by at least three months. For now, they are nearly finished with construction and have received all brewing equipment. However, the government shutdown had the brewery “indefinitely stalled” while Sandhills’ federal brewing license is stuck in the review process.

“Best case scenario, we’re now looking at a March or April opening,” Williamson said during the shutdown earlier this month.

The owners of Servaes Brewing Company, a microbrewery to open in downtown Shawnee later this year, has been waiting several months for the federal government to approve their brewer’s notice.

Breweries tighten down on finances

Servaes Brewing Company
Servaes Brewing Company just got the keys for its new brewery at 10921 Johnson Drive in downtown Shawnee. From left are Brandi Servaes, 8-month-old Dylan Servaes, Courtney Servaes and Aaron Porter, 12.

Courtney Servaes said they filed a brewer’s notice for their Shawnee microbrewery in early September; she was expecting to receive the federal production license by early December.

“Ours, unfortunately, is caught up in the shutdown,” Servaes said Jan. 23, two days before the shutdown ended. “It’s not impacting us right this second because we’re not ready to open, but we expect that our equipment will come in in the next two weeks.

“Once our equipment arrives, it will be impacting us because we could be brewing, and we won’t be able to.”

Servaes Brewing Company needs to obtain its federal production license by early to mid-March so it can begin brewing and be ready to open the first or second week of April, Servaes added. “I just worry that they are so back-ordered that it’s going to take even longer than normal just to get that going.”

One of the biggest impacts for both Sandhills and Servaes is the financial implications. Because of the delay in opening, Sandhills has no cash flow and finances are becoming tight, Williamson added.

“Rent doesn’t stop being due just because the government is closed,” Williamson said. “While I’m confident that we will manage, it adds many extra layers of stress that I have zero control over and no ability to fix.”

Owners of the two other microbreweries expecting to open in the coming months — Rockcreek Brewing Company in downtown Mission and Transport Brewery in downtown Shawnee — said they were not affected by the shutdown.

“We’d received our federal production license prior to the shutdown, so thankfully it hasn’t been an issue for us,” said Jason Leib, one of the co-owners of Transport Brewery.