US beer shortage and price hikes threaten carbon dioxide shortages and barriers to supply

The supply chain crisis and an extinct volcano are creating a new beer shortage.

  • “We’ve been doing delivery to delivery for the past few weeks and we’re definitely concerned about delivery,” Ronn Friedlander, co-founder of Aeronaut Brewing, told Mike Deehan of Axios Boston.

Zoom in: A shortage of carbon dioxide production caused by natural contamination in the Jackson Dome — a reservoir of CO2 from an extinct volcano in Mississippi — is forcing brewers to cut back.

  • Brewers across the country are reporting production delays to get beer to market and are preparing contingency plans to switch to nitrogen.
  • Nightshift Brewery outside Boston closed a facility after being told their carbon dioxide supply would be cut “in the near future, possibly more than a year.”
  • Others pay 3-4x as much.

Zoom out: The carbon dioxide shortage is the latest threat to the beer industry’s recovery from the pandemic.

  • Beer makers – especially small, independent craft brewers – are struggling with inflation and supply chain problems.
  • “It’s become a struggle to keep the doors open,” one brewer recently told Bart Watson, an economist with the Colorado-based Brewers Association.

The other side: A handful of brewers have been isolated from the shortage as they use innovative technology to capture natural carbon dioxide from the brewing process and store it for future use.

  • Denver Beer Co. in Colorado uses recovered CO2 and sells extra stock to a cannabis company for use in the grow houses.

What’s next: Beer prices have risen less than the broader food and beverage market, but that could change if the rising cost of inputs – be it CO2 or grain – leads to a more expensive pint.

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