So after 2 months, I was getting slightly impatient since we hadn’t heard from the TTB. Last time it *only* took them a month. So I got slightly impatient and decided to call to make sure everything was on track. Here is how last week went:
Monday – call the TTB phone number (note: ttb east coast, me west coast). No answer. The third time I leave a message asking whether they had received my application and whether they were waiting for anything from me. Their message promises a response within 24 hours.
Tuesday no message. humph. Be patient.
Wed morning. No message by noon TTB time. So I called them again and I finally got to talk to a human. I asked them the same question, and they gave me a different number to call, which I do. I again get in touch with a human, ask them the same question, and they transfer me to another department, which goes to voicemail! So I leave a message. Late in the day I get a voice mail explaining that they have my application, I have an investigator assigned, there is no note saying that I need anything else and, if I need it, here is the direct number of the investigator. YES!
Thursday morning I decided to call the investigator and asked the same question — is there anything that I forgot or can do to speed things up. She responded that she hasn’t looked at the application and in fact she only got it yesterday, Wednesday. Also, she will have to conduct an interview and when would be a good time, besides now, of course. We agree on tomorrow at the same time – 11:00 for me. Woo hoo, progress.
Friday. The investigator calls and I have my “interview.” The funny thing is that somebody called me during the interview and I thought that it was a friend who was waiting for me to pick him up to take off for the weekend. It turns out it was the TTB returning one of my messages with the same exact shpeal that I received on Wednesday. Ye gods!
Moral of the story. Government agencies like this are severely understaffed and most likely need a slight motivation to get to your specific need. I tried not to be pushy, but after that long, I definitely tried to “motivate” them to get to my stuff. I really don’t think it was coincidence that my documents got to the investigator on Wednesday, and that she only looked at them after I called. In the end, the investigator was friendly and helpful, but she just had a tough time getting to my application.
Anyway, the interview wasn’t a big deal. It lasted 30 minutes and was information gathering and information giving more than anything. they asked such questions as:
how tall are the ceilings?
what is the floor made of? … exterior? … walls? … ceilings?
Describe the brewery premises.
What did I plan to brew? me: “malt beverages, i.e. beer” Her: “yes, but ales, stouts, or lagers?” Me in head: “huh? stout = ale” me in phone: “yes, many varieties including ales, stouts, and lagers. ….. and other types, but all will be fermented malt beverages.”
how many barrels do I plan to brew in the year? (500 barrels)
and then, laughing, Did I think that I might surpass the 60,000 barrel or 1,000,000 barrel mark?
the tax rate is $7/barrrel up to 60k barrels.
Did i know about registering colas on line (labels)?
Did I know about pay.gov?
Had I registered with the FDA?
Were there any loans involved?
Where my startup cash was coming from, how much?
Where my working capital was coming from, how much?
Would I have any problem paying taxes on time?
Verified brewery’s address
Was I a brewery or brewpub, with or without tasting room?
Did I know that the TTB can come into the premises at any time?
Did I share the space with anyone else?
What was my business experience?
When did I intend to start operations? In my head: “as soon as I hear back from you” In the phone: “as soon as we get all the permits in place, hopefully mid September or October.”
Did I have prior TTB authorization or work with a company that did.
Do I (Or did I) own stock or ownership in any TTB approved business.
Was I the only member/owner.
Has any owner/member been convicted? .. lived outside the US in the past 10 years?
Was I aware that my bond expires every four years? … and all of the ramifications that come with brewing under an expired bond?
Those weren’t all of the questions, but the gist of them. More questions asked about whether others will be involved in any of 5 ways, where my tax/non-tax beer will be, my brewing records, etc. etc. Like I said, it was just a bunch of questions and informational questions/statements.
Afterward I had a few things that I needed to resubmit and/or answer. What the composition of the roof was (since I didn’t know), a better brewery diagram — like which circle was the mash tun versus the brew kettle, etc etc., a pay.gov form, a correction form for my bond (because of a typo), and a copy of my drivers license as proof of the interview.
Hopefully all is good on the TTB front and I’ll hear from them soon. … At least the process has started and should be rolling down the hill!