Craft Beer Prices May Surge Soon: Here’s Why

by Clayton Edwards

Like many items made by small manufacturers, craft beer isn’t cheap. Small breweries don’t have access to the cost-saving measures or massive markets that national brands enjoy. As a result, craft breweries pass some of their overheard on to consumers along with their beer. Enthusiasts don’t mind paying a little extra from some exceptional suds which is good because those prices are about to get higher.

The overhead on many craft breweries is about to go up and we’ll see that reflected in the beer prices. You might think that hops, barley, or wheat are getting more expensive and causing the price hike. That isn’t the case, though. Instead, small breweries are paying more for aluminum cans. Most craft breweries sell their beer in cans because it’s a cheaper option than bottles.

How Aluminum Prices Make Craft Beer More Expensive

Great Revivalist Brew Lab in Geneseo, Illinois is just one example of this issue. Scott Lehnert owns Great Revivalist and spoke to local news outlet WQAD about it. “I typically go through two or three pallets of cans a month,” he told the outlet. Each pallet contains roughly 7,000 empty cans. This may seem like a lot of cans, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t. As a result, the brewery gets its cans from a wholesaler instead of buying from a manufacturer like Ball Corp. Unfortunately, wholesalers are rising their prices which will drive up the prices of craft beer.

“I wish we went through enough cans to get them through Ball Corp,” the brewer told WQAD. But, Ball and other manufacturers have been raising their minimum order size for years. Currently, a brewery would have to buy between 200,000 and one million cans to be able to buy straight from the manufacturer.

Lehnert said that Great Revivalist doesn’t have storage space for that many cans. Most other small breweries won’t either. This is why their struggle and subsequent higher prices will be common in the craft beer world.

Before prices went up, the craft beer brewery was only paying about fourteen cents per can. Now, Lehnert says, they’re paying more than twice that much. Currently, they’re forking over 33 cents per can. So, let’s say Great Revivalist Brew Lab needs two-and-a-half pallets of cans for a month. That’s 17,500 cans total. At 33 cents per can, we’re looking at a cost of $5,775 before any taxes or fees.

Other Rising Overhead Costs

Lehnert said that the cost of cans isn’t the only thing that will drive up craft beer prices. Additionally, Great Revisionist is having trouble getting cardboard and plastic used in packaging their beer. “It’s a shame. We see this happening everywhere,” he said about the supply issues.