Times Are Tough for the Beer Industry Right Now

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With the price of almost everything up this year, it was inevitable: the cost of America’s favorite alcoholic beverage is now going up, too.

As marketing director for a growing craft brewery, MadTree Brewing, Trevor Self has a job many would envy.

“We just won gold at the World Beer Cup,” he said, speaking about their Ziegler American Style Amber Lager.

But this year, that dream job has become a bad dream for some brewers struggling with supplier price hikes.

“Ever since 2020, things have been fluctuating and getting higher, so we’re always factoring in what could possibly be,” Self said.

Prices and shortages start to take a toll

It has been a rough couple of years for the craft brewing industry. Like any of us, when we go to the supermarket, they’ve been dealing with the same inflationary pressures and shortages on a much bigger scale.

“Some people out there are having a tough time getting their hands on cans, or how much they have to pay for them,” he said.

Luckily, he says, MadTree locked in a contract for cans months ago, so it has not been hit as hard with price hikes as many other craft brewers.

A report on the enthusiast site GoodBeerHunting.com called “Running on Fumes” lists some of the price hikes brewers are facing in 2022.

  • Aluminum cans: Up 20% in a year.
  • Malt: Up 30% or more.
  • Shipping costs: Up 50%.
  • Labor: Up 20%.

But the CO2 — or carbon dioxide — shortage is causing the most headaches right now.

Chuck Skypeck with the national Brewers Association says that some smaller craft breweries are curtailing production until later this fall.

“It is a key ingredient,” he said. “So, if you don’t have carbon dioxide, you don’t have [a] beer.”

That means some breweries — especially in New England — won’t be stocking all their usual beers the next few months.’

“They may not see their favorite beer on the shelf if the brewery has encountered those problems,” Skypeck said.

The government’s Consumer Price Index shows beer prices up 5 percent this year, but Skypeck says that could go higher.

Back at MadTree brewing, Self says they are doing everything possible to keep their taps flowing and their prices reasonable.

“We are always finding creative and strategic ways to save on costs without damaging our product,” he said.

That way, that first sip will be crisp and affordable, so you don’t waste your money.

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John Matarese

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