Supply chain problems leave brewers feeling tapped out

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Breweries are feeling a pinch in cost and availability of supplies.

Due to drought and other bad weather, last year’s crop of barley was smaller than normal nationally. A major supplier of carbon dioxide having to shut off its supply isn’t helping either.

While these are putting pressure on the local craft beer industry, brewers expect to keep things flowing.

Rochester's Kinney Creek Brewing, which has found a niche with off-site sales of seltzers, has also found the price of cans has tripled, said Donovan Seitz, Kinney Creek owner and founder.

In the last year, four of Kinney Creek flavor compounds key to some of their most popular Seltzer drinks went on national back order, Seitz said.

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“Currently, I’m still waiting on one to come back and it is one of our No. 1selling seltzer brands,” Seitz said.

Steve Finnie, co-owner of Little Thistle Brewing Co., said supplies he needs are still available but prices are up across the board.

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From left, Nick Novotny, assistant brewer at Little Thistle Brewing in Rochester, Minnesota, Steve Finney, Little Thistle co-owner, and Randy Ust, head brewer at Lift Bridge Brewing Co. in Stillwater, Minnesota, watch beer flow as they brew a collaboration beer at Little Thistle March 22, 2022.

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“Just about everything has gone up 30% in price and takes longer to arrive, so it requires more planning ahead,” he said.

However, it’s not just brewing ingredients and supplies small breweries are finding in short supply or back ordered. Prices on merchandise such as T-shirts are up.

Some items are temporarily unavailable, Finnie said. Merchandise sales are a significant income for the business, he added.

Smaller breweries seem to be weathering the supply issues better.

Owners of Sylvan Brewing in Lanesboro, Minnesota, say they haven’t had trouble finding what they need when they need it.

“Surprisingly, brewing ingredients and supplies have not yet been an issue for us,” said Karen Heimdahl, Sylvan Brewing co-owner. “Costs keep increasing so we're definitely nervous.”

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Seitz echoed the sentiment, recalling the difficulties the industry has had from 2020 through now.

“I hope that we are getting through this as we see things reappear in the marketplace, but it seems like there is always something looming around the corner,” Seitz said.

Sylvan Brewing Andy Heimdahl.JPG
Sylvan Brewing co-owner and head brewer Andy Heimdahl draws a sample of beer from a fermenter July 20, 2022 at Sylvan Brewing in Lanesboro, Minn.

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