A beer shortage is looming in the future thanks to the supply chain crisis and an extinct volcano.
Mother Nature Strikes Again
The shortage is due to natural contamination at Mississippi's Jackson Dome. The dome sits 2,900 feet beneath Jackson, Mississippi. It has supplied the lion's share of CO2 to the restaurant and beer industries dating all the way back to 1977. This summer, the supply within the dome was contaminated with raw gas. Raw gas in the supply means the CO2 is essentially useless.
Across the country, brewers are reporting production delays in putting the beer into the market and are in the planning stages of switching to nitrogen.
The Breweries React
Ronn Friedlander, co-founder of Aeronaut Brewing had this to say about the shortage and supply chain issues:
“We’ve been running delivery to delivery for the past few weeks, and we are certainly concerned about the supply. We have to figure out some way to continue to source CO2, and, for now, we’re actually just staying ahead of it, but it’s certainly a big concern for us.”
Night Shift Brewing, based in Boston, announced that their CO2 supply was being cut “for the foreseeable future, possibly more than a year until we get more.”
Nick Purdy, the co-founder, and president of Wild Heaven Beer in Atlanta, says that while his company has avoided the shortage so far, he is still taking precautions. “If the rail strike had happened, it would have quickly become a problem and not just for us. There’s almost no major process (brewing, cleaning, packaging) that doesn’t require CO2. Our head brewer has rewritten our standard operating procedures in the past two weeks designed to reduce our usage going forward without any compromise in quality.”
Brant Austin is the Head Brewer at Austin Brothers Beer Company in Alpena, Michigan. He says, “We have heard of CO2 shortages in other states, but we haven't seen any shortages here in Michigan. According to our supplier, they are not worried about their supply chain for their customers.”
Trying To Bounce Back
The beer industry has had a rough go at it trying to rebound since the shutdowns of 2020. Beer makers are struggling with inflation and supply chain issues on top of the new carbon dioxide shortage. Some brewers have managed to insulate themselves against the looming crisis by using innovative technology to capture naturally occurring carbon dioxide from the brewing process and store it for later.
Stay the Path
While beer prices have managed to stay relatively unchanged, that could quickly change with the rising cost of inputs such as CO2 and grain. This could end up leading to a more expensive pint in the future, so go grab a six-pack (or twenty) before it's too late.
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