CINCINNATI — The Queen City could one day be home to the only college campus in Ohio that brews, sells and distributes its own craft beer.
When that day may be remains uncertain though as Cincinnati State Technical and Community College waits for the partial shutdown of the federal government to end.
"We've been working on this application for a while now," said Carla Gesell-Streeter, a faculty member at the college. "We thought we were giving them what they wanted and then it came to screaming halt."
The college was waiting for the U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to approve its application for an A1C brewing permit when the partial shutdown of the federal government began on Dec. 22. The A1C permit would allow Cincinnati State to sell and distribute beers made by students enrolled in the school's associate degree in brewing science and certificate in brewing sales and marketing programs.
Students currently brew beer on Cincinnati State's campus using a Sabco Brew Magic brewing system but the college cannot sell what those students create.
The shutdown forced the federal bureau, which approves most alcohol-related permits and the sale of any new beers in the country, to close indefinitely.
"Not only are there no new beers available, but any brewery and planning is going to have to wait longer," Gesell-Streeter said.
Gesell-Streeter began the Cincinnati State's application for a brewing permit shortly after the two-year college launched its associate degree programs in the fall of 2017.
"Once we started teaching the degree we began the (permit) process," she said.
The first step of that process was asking state officials if it would be legal for a public college in Ohio to have a brewing permit. Gesell-Streeter said the state not only said yes, but also offered its full support. The Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Liquor Control Licensing is just waiting for TTB approval before it issues the state's A1C permit.
Gesell-Streeter had originally hoped Cincinnati State would receive its permit by early February.
She added, the longer the shutdown continues, the bigger the backlog of pending applications the TTB will have to review and that will likely further delay the approval of Cincinnati State's permit.
Cincinnati State currently has about 100 students enrolled in its brewing program. Gesell-Streeter said the program has a solid mix of working professionals and non-traditional students. The first class of program participants will graduate with their associate degrees this semester.
The college has tentatively planned to sell the beers produced by those students during a showcase this spring.
"We've got an event planned for April 20 called Project Brew," Gesell-Streeter said. "If the government shutdown doesn't end soon we're going to have to totally rethink that plan."
Once the shutdown does end, and if Cincinnati State is awarded its brewing permit, there are plans to sell the beer at the college's restaurant, the Summit. Gesell-Streeter would also like to see Cincinnati State open its own taproom someday.
"We've already won six awards for our beers," she said.