Bad for beer, Alaska craft breweries concerned about aluminum can shortage

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 9:35 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -With Americans spending more time at home over the past six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been unexpected upheaval in countless industries, beer happens to be one of them.

“We’re losing our access to customers.” Says Lee Ellis board president of The Brewers Guild of Alaska and president of the Midnight Sun Brewing Company.

The issue at hand, cans.

Right now, there is a nationwide shortage of aluminum cans and it’s effecting beer and soft drink companies. National brands like Coors Light, Miller Light, Blue Moon, and more are on one end of the shortage while smaller craft breweries like Midnight Sun Brewing Company are on the other. With companies big and small scrambling for receptacles to deliver finely brewed beverages from the factory to your mouth, it’s the little guys that are getting pushed around by their distributors.

“This year they’ve just turned around and told us well, we’re not even going to be able to supply these cans to you until possibly the second quarter of 2021. I have one brand in particular that I am completely out of cans.” Says Ellis.

According to Lee Ellis, this is proving to be problematic for almost every craft brewery in the state. However size does have it’s advantages and the Alaskan Brewing Company, which is larger than your average craft brewery, seems to be well-positioned to ride out the storm.

“We fall into a kind of an interesting place in the industry where we’re not so huge that a shortage on aluminum would immediately effect huge demands that we may have on cans but we’re not so small that we can’t deal directly with can suppliers and really get assurances from can suppliers that we’ll have our cans in stock.” Says Andy Kline, the communications manager for Alaskan Brewing Company.

While this can shortage may not be hurting every beer business in the state the current pandemic certainly is. “The Covid-19 crisis is definitely affecting our industry. Our draft sales are way down as are everyone’s. I don’t know of a company out there who’s draft sales are doing fine so that’s a big part of our business. On the other hand, because people are stocking up at home, package sales, bottles, and cans have gone up.” Says Kline.

How does this shortage affect the consumer? Well, it could lead to higher prices, especially if companies are forced to source materials from outside the country. It also may change your options at the liquor store. “Consumers be warned that maybe some of your favorite beers may be coming out in bottles soon and it may be that way for a little while.” Says Ellis.

This nationwide can shortage is already having an impact for local companies here in the last frontier and with little sign that anything will change soon, it could be an additional economic hardship for businesses already feeling the effects of lower tourism and fewer bar patrons thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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