The Department of Homeland Security is, apparently, all done securing our borders from terrorist threats. I say that because they’ve moved on from their stated work, which consists of — as their website puts it — “Preserving our Freedom, Protecting America,” to the more important job of protecting America’s breweries from the looming spectre of terrorist attack. The first to be saved is Creekside Brewing, a new brewery that recently opened in San Luis Obispo, California. Owners John Moule and Eric Beaton were told by the TTB (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) that they must “protect the[ir] beer from terrorists” by building a wall around their tanks. At first the tanks, which sit in full view inside the brewpub, were separated from the public by some poles and chains. Not good enough, said the TTB. They must “be behind a physical barrier with locking doors,” they were told. So they put up locks. Still not good enough. Moule and Beaton were told to build a wall. After a lot of asking, they were finally told that “the wall was needed to prevent someone from poisoning the beer. What’s more, [the representative] told him it was a post-Sept. 11 measure that fell under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security.” Creekside Brewing had to spend $15,000 on iron gates and thick glass and plastic, which also delayed their opening by a month.
Above is the new terrorist-proof Creekside Brewery. (Photo by Steve E. Miller of New Times). But where the story gets even more interesting, is that no one can say for sure exactly why, or under what law, they were singled out by the TTB to protect their brewery from a potential terrorist attack. As detailed by New Times, a local SLO newspaper, every federal agency pointed the finger at someone else when pressed for reasons why Creekside had to protect its beer. It’s pretty clear they’re the only brewery so far that’s been forced to put their brewery under lock and key in this fashion. But when it came to reasonable questions like “why,” things quickly turned into a Kafka novel. It’s definitely worth reading the New Times article, in which a labyrinth series of federal agencies were contacted, none of which would claim responsibility for Creekside’s delay in opening or their having to spend $15,000 on the new security measures. At the end, your head will be spinning. And you won’t feel any safer. As another blogger, Dick Destiny, put it. “One is more likely to be stung to death by bees than be the target of a terrorist attack in SLO.”