Imagine this. It’s Saturday afternoon, you’ve just finished mowing the lawn, and you decide to take a quick drive to the party store for a six-pack of your favorite beer. The problem is, that kid at the counter informs you that your particular brand isn’t currently available, due to a supply chain issue. “A problem?”, you may ask. “Ya.”, the pimply-faced kid replies, “Some kind of gas thing.” 

So, what is this gas thing? First of all, it’s not gasoline. Gasoline and diesel are still readily available at sky-rocketed prices. It’s the availability of Co2 that is affecting the nation’s breweries. Yup, you heard it right. Not only will the local breweries be affected, but it’s a nationwide deal. You can pin the problem on the Jackson Dome, one of the largest Co2 gas production hubs located in Mississippi. Elevated levels of other hydrocarbons, that do not meet food and beverage standards, are contaminating the Co2 that is used in the process of brewing beer. 

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Gasworld, a leading news outlet covering the gas industry, quoted Ned Lane, President of Cee Kay Supply, a leading supplier of compressed gases. Lane says,  

 I believe this is going to be a challenging summer/fall. Co2 demand continues to outpace the capacity being added and the current outages are only adding to that stress.  

He added that the Praxair Inc. Hopewell Co2 plant, located in Virginia, is scheduled to shut down in September, which will result in the loss of approximately 75 truckloads of Co2 being pulled out of the supply chain daily. This shortage will also affect the food industry, which uses dry ice.  

So how is this affecting the local breweries in the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek area? A survey of local breweries doesn’t show a current problem in obtaining Co2, however, prices of the gas have skyrocketed. A spokesperson for a Battle Creek brewery says that prices have steadily increased for the past year or so. 

It looks as though September may be the tip of the iceberg for a potential beer shortage. Beer drinkers can only hope that Praxair, the potential lifeline of Co2 in Hopewell, Virginia, will rise to the call and delay the anticipated shutdown in September. 

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