PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Breweries across the nation could see their carbon dioxide tank shipments arriving later and later, due to a contamination in Mississippi at one of the largest gas production hubs.
“When I first heard about it, it was from our CO2 supplier saying that their could be some issues in the supply chain coming later,” said Director of Brewing Operations and Co-Founder of Perfect Plain Brewing Co. Reed Odeneal. “It sounds like a contamination issue, but I feel like supply chain issues have been the story of the past two years.”
Right now, The Brewers Association, a national organization, said it’s receiving reports about the CO2 crisis from producers across the country.
Michaela Todd, general manager of Coastal County Brewing Company in Pensacola said she hadn’t heard of the CO2 shortage, but the brewery has been experiencing general supply chain issues.
“We haven’t experienced that yet, but CO2 is important for everybody,” said Todd. “We use it for both brewing and our drafts. But as far as CO2 is concerned, we haven’t had any issues yet with our supplier.”
Odeneal described CO2 as the lifeblood of a brewery.
“You can sort of manufacture beer without it, but you can’t put it into a keg, you can’t serve it to guests, so it really stops you in your tracks,” said Odeneal. “We use CO2 mainly in our manufacturing where that is how we get the beer out of the tank. We use CO2 and pressurize the tank to push it into the kegs. When we wash our kegs, we have to purge them with CO2 to make sure there is no oxygen inside, so it’s really part of the process all around.”
Josh Pugh a manager at Gulf Coast Brewery said he is currently seeing a longer wait time to get CO2.
“We are currently trying to get some CO2 and yeah we are a little backed up here and there,” said Pugh. “I wouldn’t say we have experienced it too whole heartedly yet. You’ve gotta have CO2 to push beer out of the taps and when you’re cleaning kegs, you are adding CO2 to them and in any part of the beer making process, CO2 is a crucial element.”
When faced with a potential CO2 shortage, Odeneal said he is worried if his supplier happens to run out of the gas.
“If our supplier runs out, there is not much we can do,” said Odeneal. “We are under a contract with them and we cant’ call someone else. it’s a tough position to be in when you sign a contract with a company to provide a product and then they can’t get it, what do we do?”
Another issue facing breweries that Odeneal has seen is inflation.
“It’s not necessarily getting the product that is the problem, but the prices have been skyrocketing,” said Odeneal. “We have had four price hikes in the last two months. I think prior to the pandemic, I only had two price hikes during our first three years. It’s been really tough. We’ve had to tweak our recipes, like how much barley we put in a beer. We are starting to tune our recipes to what we can get.”