Almost have TTB Approval

When you’re starting out a brewery, there’s a bunch of agencies you need to get licenses and approvals from. One of the major ones is the TTB, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (I guess ATTTB doesn’t have the same ring to it). The TTB is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and it’s main purpose is to make sure alcohol and tobacco producers are paying their excise taxes. Background checks, environmental issues, zoning issues, terrorism issues, and the like also come into play with this approval– they are essentially the Federal government approval process.

I got a call yesterday from a very nice TTB agent informing me that I was missing a few documents and she went over some other things with me. One thing was she told me my background check came up that I had a court record from 1997. I had no idea what this was and it frightened me. Is my memory that bad to where I don’t remember being sued or charged ten years ago? Luckily, my wife Rachel remembered.

On a warm June day in 1997, I got out of school at noon on the last day of school before summer vacation. I was going to Mater Dei High School and just finished my sophomore year, and my buddies and I agreed to meet up at Del Taco on Redhill off of the 5. I was driving down Redhill after turning on it from Edinger and proceeded to enter the Del Taco parking lot. I parked, got out of my car, and 10 seconds later a motorcycle cop was in front of me. The cop accused me of trying to lose him– he said he clocked me a mile away and he had to go through 3 red lines to catch up with me. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about, and he told me I was going 45 in the 35 mile an hour zone. He decided to drop his accusation that I was fleeing from him, and gave me a speeding ticket. A few days later, I drove by the area where he clocked me, and it was a 45 mile an hour zone. I was pissed off– I was 16 at the time, and I didn’t need a speeding violation on my record. I decided to contest the ticket, and went to court with my Mom. About 200 other people that day were wanting to contest tickets as well, and the judge told us we’d be here all day. My Mom decided she wasn’t going to waste her day with this, so she told me I’d be going to traffic school to remove the ticket from my record. Ten years later and this shows up on my background check, and the TTB wants an explanation for it since it doesn’t show on their record what the matter was about.

Anyway, after I send over several documents to the TTB, they will be ready to approve my application. Pretty quick considering I sent in these documents two weeks ago.

The other approvals I’m having to get are from the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), Orange County Health Agency, and the City of Placentia. I’ve also applied for licenses with the California Board of Equalization for my sellers permit and my excise tax permit. Yes, the state of California along with the Federal government have special taxes just for alcohol producers.

The City and County Health Agency are more concerned about my plans for tenant improvements such as putting in floor drains, extending gas lines, other plumbing, putting in a new electrical service, and so on. The Health Agency wants to make sure I’m putting in these improvements in a way that is satisfactory for a food processing plant. My plans are now being bid on by my contractor, and then we’ll send them to the City and Health Department for approval. They are minor improvements, so both have said it would be an “over the counter” process, meaning there’s no extended deliberations about the improvements, and can be approved immediately (or denied immediately) once we bring the plans in.

The ABC will hopefully approve my license 10-40 days, so I’m thinking everything is on track for late August / early September. As most brewery owners have told me (or told me while laughing at me), I won’t be open by August, September, or even October. Plan for December. That’s the way I have it on my budget, so at least I’m trying to be realistic. I do think late August / early September is do-able though. We’ll see.

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