EUGENE, Ore. -- A nationwide aluminum can shortage is hitting close to home for Eugene breweries.
One factor for the shortage is the coronavirus and the changing habits related to it. Instead of beer ending up in kegs at restaurants and bars, it's being sold for home consumption, often in cans.
Claim 52 Brewing in Eugene said before the pandemic, about 25% of the beer they made was put in cans. Now, that number has surged to as much as 75%.
According to Head Brewer Bryce Fisher, with demand so high, shipments of cans to the brewery are getting delayed as much as a month.
“From conception of the can to delivery of the can on a normal time frame is about eight weeks,” Fisher explained. “So, when we’re seeing another four to six weeks tacked on top of that, it’s really hard to plan.”
Fisher said the brewery staggers orders for cans about every two weeks, so there is semi-constant supply of the cans available. But still, Fisher said some parts of the cans, like a special lid used on one beer variety, is simply not available sometimes. He said other breweries are also feeling the effects of the shortage.
"Other people in town pretty much echo what we've seen," Fisher said. "Things are coming in late. They're being told they're not sure when it's going to show up or if it's going to show up at all."
CNN reports that can manufacturing companies are adding lines and building new facilities in America, but those won’t be operational for at least a year from now, providing little comfort to breweries whose entire business has shifted to bottling brews.
“Our keg market has really declined since the stay at home order and even after that was lifted. So there is no replacement for cans. That’s pretty much our business model right now – putting things into aluminum cans,” Fisher said.
Fisher said using alternatives like glass bottles would be impractical and require new machinery.