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Local Beer Brewers Brace For Trump Tariff Impact

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Everywhere you look, 21st Amendment Brewery General Manager Rob Strasser is surrounded by aluminum and steel.

So Strasser and other Northern California beer brewers are bracing for the full impact of the tariff trade war set off by President Donald Trump's restrictions placed on foreign steel and aluminum.

From the aluminum cans his products are sold to consumers in to the large steel vats his beer is brewed in, Strasser will be impacted by any rise in the metals cost. Then there are the kegs his beer is delivered in and the taps it flows from.

"It affects us on every level," Strasser told KPIX 5. "The small numbers on that level (international trade) turn into big numbers on our level and it's very crippling."

According to the beer institute, 2.2 million Americans owe their livelihood to beer production, generating $350 billion annually. The administration argues the tariffs add up to only a fraction of a penny per can, but those costs add up.

"In our view, those pennies add up and in this case to $347 million of taxes on American brewers," said Jim McGreevy, President CEO Beer Institute.

McGreevey said 60% of American brewed beer comes in aluminum cans and most of that aluminum comes from Canada. Not because it's cheaper, but because there's simply no other choice.

The U.S. doesn't produce enough aluminum and hasn't since World War II.

"Very few jobs will be brought back in aluminum smelting in particular, where were have the potential of losing, just in beer, upwards of 20,000 good paying jobs," McGreevey claimed.

And while some brewers say they plan to pass the cost on to consumers, local brewers say they can't if they want to stay competitive.

"More than likely we could have eat the costs in the form of not not be able to hire the new packaging guys and things like that we need to expand," Strasser told KPIX 5.

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