MIAMI – At S27 Ales in San Jose, California, the owners carefully select the ingredients to brew their craft beers. But one item that's difficult to get their hands on these days is aluminum.
"Cans have been the biggest problem for us," says Co-Founder Lucas Szymanowski.
Brewers across the country are dealing with a can shortage. It started in the spring of 2020 when bars and restaurants had to shut down and more people were drinking at home, driving up demand for aluminum.
"And [that] meant greater demand for aluminum cans. And that extended to other beverage products like soda and so there simply weren't enough cans to go around," says Bart Watson, Chief Economist at the Brewers Association.
There have also been other supply chain issues including delivery delays. And the need for cans continues. According to the Aluminum Association, domestic demand for aluminum was up more than 5% in the first quarter of the year.
Before the aluminum can shortage, S27 Ales could order big pallets of cans whenever they needed them. Now, they have to wait for their supplier to alert them that cans are available, and they're paying more per pallet.
"When we order aluminum cans, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000 that has to be spent because the cans are available in that moment," says Szymanowski.
There is some good news, experts say supplies are slowly getting better.
"Prices are going to remain high, but availability, hopefully, will improve. We're starting to see again more capacity coming online, which will help," Watson says.
In the meantime, brewers are helping each other.
"In the community, I mean, it became very common, everybody to message everybody else, 'Hey, I have a need, I need a half pallet, one pallet of cans. Do you have any incoming, can I borrow those?" Szymanowski says.
S27 Ales and other brewers say they will continue to work together to weather the challenges of the can shortage.
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