Carbon dioxide shortage brewing up trouble for breweries in central Virginia

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 11:19 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s probably the last thing you think about when it’s poured into an ice-cold glass, but it’s worth more than gold for breweries.

“Beer would not be anywhere near as much fun without that little fizz to it, and so yeah, it’s pretty darn important,” David Gott, with Legend Brewing Co., said.

Gott has been serving craft beers for more than 20 years in Manchester, but a bill he just received has left him with a not-so-good sour taste in his mouth.

“I actually received a bill recently from our provider that they are having a hard time as all providers trying to find CO2, having to drive as much as a thousand miles out of their range to get CO2,” Gott said.

Gott said his bill for CO2 was more than he usually pays due to a shortage in carbon dioxide.

“Gasoline Fees, of course, fuel fees and the surcharges for the disruption of the CO2 supply was $743,” Gott said.

He said the disruption was due to one of the larger CO2 providers in the country running into a contamination issue last month.

Gott said now his supplier has to drive hundreds of miles for an ingredient that goes into what you drink and helps push your beer through the production process.

“Certainly not blaming them [supplier] for it, but a 34% increase in one of your basic raw materials that’s a very big deal,” Gott said.

Other craft breweries like Hardywood said they’re aware of the issues and are preparing for what may come down the road.

“I know there are some local things with local CO2 producers, and I know there are some shutdowns planned that are preventative maintenance side of things that are happening,” Brian Nelson, brewmaster at Hardywood, said. “So it is, but we are fully aware of what’s going on, but there is going to be a challenge in the future I think.”

In the meantime, Gott said he’s holding off on increasing prices but feels for some of the smaller breweries could be impacted.

“Some of the other places that are doing this on 100-pound cylinders and stuff, it’s going to be very difficult on them,” Gott said.

A spokesperson with the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild said it might get worse before it gets better, with two other production facilities expected to be down for routine maintenance.

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