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'Candemic' beer can shortage: Local breweries working through lack of aluminum cans

Posted at 11:47 AM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 11:47:17-05

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio breweries are adjusting to another casualty of the pandemic — an aluminum beer can shortage.

Multiple breweries like Saucy Brew Works and Royal Docks Brewing Company have been forced to pivot when it comes to packaging their products. In some instances, breweries have had to purchase expensive equipment to change the way they do business because of a national aluminum shortage.

“We were consuming more and more product at home, and so the demand for the package product became even higher,” said John Bikis of Royal Docks Brewing Company in North Canton.

When it comes to canned brews, business owners said opportunities to “take one down and pass it around” are few and far between.

“We received a call from our supplier who said, ‘Hey, even though we know we have your order, you're not receiving it because there's simply no cans,’” said Bikis.

The aluminum shortage in the United States is mainly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People were consuming beverages out of cans more often than they ever have,” said Matt Shubeck of Saucy Brew Works.

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Matt Shubeck.

Some companies that local breweries buy their supplies from doubled their prices.

“Packaging costs are almost as much as the beer,” said Shubeck.

Brewmasters nationwide have been forced to outsource to make ends meet.

"Mexican can manufacturers, Chinese can manufacturers. Tried to import those to the US, which are then even more expensive due to the tariffs, transportation and shipping,” said Shubeck.

Bikis was left to package his new product with the supplies he already had on the shelf.

“Made a split decision to utilize those cans and then just wrap the cans in a new label. That was the only thing that we could do at that time,” he said.

Bikis had to bite the bullet and purchased machinery to bottle his beers on site.

“Probably one of the worst times that we could have scrambled to add this fairly expensive piece of equipment to the brewery,” said Bikis.

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Royal Docks Brewing Company.

The brewmasters said they are choosing to approach what they are calling the "candemic" with a glass half-full mentality.

“You either do it or you ultimately have no way to package product for the consumer and ultimately die,” said Bikis.