National aluminum shortage affecting local brewers

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 3:19 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:31 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A shortage of aluminum across the country has some local brewers worried that they’ll run out of cans for their products.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield hasn’t had any problems with their can orders to date, but Sean Lawson, the CEO and founding brewer, says they’re expecting some challenges in the near future.

“We’re quite concerned about the potential for supply chain disruption with aluminum cans,” he said. “We haven’t experienced any disruption as of yet, but in September, our main supplier, Balkans, asked us to reduce orders.”

Other Breweries, like Switchback in Burlington, say they’re already feeling the affects of the shortage. “We’ve managed just by the skin of our teeth to not have had a problem yet,” said the company’s Bill Cherry. “It’s been as close as we ran out of cans on a Tuesday but a truckload of new cans arrived on Wednesday.”

As they prepare for more disruptions, Switchback is also planning to use their bottling line, a resource that not many local breweries have. "There are some products that we don’t put in bottles that we’re working on getting paper labels for them, so that if worse came to worse we could still put them out in the field.” Cherry said.

Beyond cans, brewers are also concerned about potential carbon dioxide shortages, which is used to carbonate their beverages. The shortage is due to less ethanol being produced nationwide, which produces CO as a byproduct. Sean Lawson says that his brewery has already begun to see delays.

“We’ve had to delay packaging a couple of times because the delivery didn’t come when it was scheduled,” he said, "I know a number of brewers are grappling with that challenge.”

Brewers say they’re taking these issues one day at a time, and trying their best to prepare for these issues when they appear.

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