After a few roller-coastery phone calls with various agencies, the tide is beginning to turn back in my favor. The DPD, which is in charge of land use and construction permits, has thrown me a bone in the form of Brian, the great fellow who just basically skipped me a step and fast forwarded my application 6 weeks. This chips a chunk off the top of the supposed 2 and a half months they surprisingly quoted me last time. I’m not going to go into detail, because it is head-bangingly boring, but I thought I’d throw that out there. I also got notice this week that the health department should be about 2 weeks from approval. They been very helpful in pre-screening meetings. My past experiences with the health department inspectors has not been a positive one, so let’s see if this holds up.
Best of all, I finally heard back from the TTB. Er, actually, I finally got them to answer my calls. I applied October 26th for a brewer’s notice. They quote you a quick 92 days from start to finish. Last Monday was the 92 day mark, and I called them for the 4th time “just to check up on things”. I had been told weeks before Monday that my application had been assigned to an agent who was busy processing it. Monday rolled around, and I was told that it had been reassigned to a new agent and that she was busy processing it. I would hear back that week some time.
Yesterday, at 103 days, I called again. They said that if I wanted to know about the progress, I could log into my online account, where details would be posted. I immediately logged in while they were still on the phone, and I got a screen that told me my password had been reset. I ask why this has happened, and she tells me it’s because it’s been so long since I last logged in. (!!!) I wanted to tell her that the TTB might consider lengthening that password reset time if it was gonna take so damn long to get the permit, but I didn’t. I get logged in, and the lady is trying to get me off the phone, before I notice in the notes that there is instruction for a Mr. Cass (presumably the applicant), saying that there are necessary changes he needs to make. Due to his lack of response, the application is about to be abandoned. Gahh! I am not Mr. Cass! I’ve been diligently calling to check up on it! Why is the lady not looking at the notes?! What is this parallel universe I’m in?!
The nice, but inattentive lady on the phone finally transfers me to the agent that is handling my application. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. Actual contact with the person who has the power to say, “Yes, Justin, make beer and sell it”, or “Go suck on a carrot, you scofflaw, we would never let you make intoxicating spirits and profit from it!” Turns out this lady, known as “Terry”, is one of the good ones. She apologizes profusely for the lag in time, and wants to know if we can review the situation right now. I agree calmly, but with vigor. Three issues pop up.
First, a small clarification from an investor. Done. Second, the tax-paid service area (read “tasting room”) needs to be separated from the brewing area by a permanent wall or door. I start stressing. This would be a major hitch, and mean talking my landlord into it (his English is very primitive, and he just wants everything to be easy), paying a contractor to build it, changing the DPD’s plans and slowing them down, and breaking up the floor plan, which I really like having open the way it is. The gods speak to me from on high, and I suddenly realize that the front door swings about an inch from the keg cooler. A latch connecting the two would create a barrier between the spaces. She hesitates, consults her boss and agrees to it. Phew! You can imagine it in the floor plan below.
The most troubling, though not difficult to fix issue came in the form of a box that was incorrectly checked on my brewer’s bond, which is a $1000 security you have to purchase, ensuring the government of a buffer, should you decide not to pay your barrel taxes. The company I bought it from checked the one that says I “have” been convicted of fraudulent or felonious activities, a total record scratcher. A short (and kurt) conversation with said professional turned this ball around.
So we now have the TTB on the a roll. All requirements satisfied, I have the agent’s direct line, her attention, and I half expect to hear from her today saying that it’s a go. Please cross your fingers, because this would be a big deal.