EAST LANSING, Mich. — There's a potential problem brewing in Michigan, and it could affect which local beers can be found on the shelves.
Costs for beer-makers and breweries continue to increase due in part to the nationwide shortage of CO2.
"That's been since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020," owner of Old Nation Brewing in Williamston, Travis Fritts, said. "The CO2 that we require is what's called head-pressure. So, in order to evacuate a tank of beer to put it in whatever container—a keg or a can—a fair amount of CO2 is necessary."
The cost of CO2 has recently spiked, according to a graph prepared and tweeted by Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, which shows the producer price index from before the pandemic in January 2020 to July 2022.
"The consumer will see that as an increase in price, or a reduction in styles of beer that they might encounter from a given brewery," Fritts said.
Fritts, who has been brewing for 20 years, said a shortage in carbon dioxide isn't the only concern.
"There is a shortage of barley," Fritts said. "On the global market, there will be about a 30% shortage of barley this year. That's largely due to the Russian war in Ukraine."
Overall, Fritts estimated his bottomline has increased by about 12%. Although he said they have "certainly felt it," he said it could be worse.
"Here in the Midwest, we're thankfully not having the localized problem that the East Coast is having," Fritts said.
So, what can consumers do to keep Michigan breweries afloat?
"There's not a lot that the average consumer can do to stop a war in Eastern Europe, there's not a lot they can do to fix a plant issue in a CO2 harvesting facility, but they can certainly make conscious choices when they're out and about buying beer, and going local wherever possible," Fritts said. "That certainly helps those of us who are feeling the real tight squeeze."
Michigan is the sixth in the country for craft breweries, so there are plenty of local options out there.
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