Blumenthal calls for more federal aid to help Connecticut breweries

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Sen. Richard Blumenthal is pushing for the extension of federal pandemic aid to restaurants to save struggling Connecticut craft breweries.

On Friday, the Democrat visited the Labyrinth Brewing company in Manchester. The brewery was able to survive the downturn in business during the pandemic thanks to a PPP loan and a grant from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Others weren’t so lucky. In addition to Labyrinth, 16 breweries across the state received RRF funding, but another 100 were ignored. Seven breweries have closed since the start of the pandemic, including four in the past month: Shebeen in Wolcott, Better Half in Bristol, Cottrell of Pawcatuck and 30 Mile of Old Saybrook.

“At the start of the pandemic, all the restaurants closed and half of our business disappeared, Cottrell owner Charlie Buffum told the Hartford Courant. “They say people drink more, but they don’t in restaurants.”

Losing more breweries “is not an option,” Blumenthal said on Friday. It is part of a bipartisan campaign to secure a $60 billion replenishment for the fund. The $28.6 billion fund, part of the US bailout, has given grants to more than 100,000 businesses, including about 1,300 in Connecticut.

“This program is an investment in the type of investment changes that are required of our breweries,” he said. “I would rather argue with one of my colleagues in the US Senate who makes the best beer than have these breweries go out of business.”

Connecticut now has 121 craft breweries, Phil Pappas, executive director of the CT Brewers Guild, told Le Courant.

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