A ‘real concern’ brews for Charlotte craft beer makers over CO2 shortage

Brewers nationwide are reporting delays in getting beer to the market.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AXIOS) - Craft brewers nationwide are grappling with a carbon dioxide shortage that’s forcing many to take actions such as trimming production.

What’s happening: Natural contamination at the Jackson Dome — a Mississippi reservoir of CO2 from an extinct volcano — is causing a CO2 shortage, our Axios Local colleagues report.

  • Brewers nationwide are reporting delays in getting beer to the market.
  • Nightshift Brewery outside Boston shut down a facility after being told their CO2 supply was “cut for the foreseeable future, possibly more than a year.”

Why it matters: Like all small businesses, breweries have been dealing with ongoing pandemic-related challenges like pricier ingredients and supply-chain issues. A CO2 shortage, our colleagues write, is the newest threat to the beer industry’s rebound from the pandemic.

Zoom in: In June, NoDa Brewing received a notice from its CO2 supplier saying they could only promise to deliver approximately one-half of the average CO2 supply NoDa would normally need for the entire summer, co-owner Todd Ford tells me.

  • NoDa’s CO2 supplier also increased its costs by about 40%, he adds. NoDa’s been able to buy CO2 from other vendors temporarily, which has helped ease its supply concerns.

» Related Story: Charlotte businesses anticipating economic boom from the Presidents Cup

The brewer has also been able to reduce CO2 consumption in a few different areas to avoid any reduction of beer production, Ford adds, including by using CO2 produced during the brewing process to offset what they’d normally buy from their vendor.

“We have had two months of real concern and we will not be out for the woods for another month or two,” Ford says.

Legion Brewing, also impacted by the shortage, has invested in equipment that extracts nitrogen from the air, then used in place of CO2, a spokesperson said.

  • “The CO2 shortage is a very real problem the Legion team is aware of, so this new equipment allows them to reduce their need and dependency on CO2.

Of note: The shortage and ongoing supply-chain complications have meant NoDa and Legion are paying more for their supplies. But they haven’t trimmed production — nor have they passed those costs down to customers.

“It will reduce our profitability, there is no way around it. We have not raised our prices in an effort to stay competitive in the market but that can only last so long,” Ford says.