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As the CO2 Shortage Drags On, Is Nitrogen an Option for Your Brewery?

CO2 prices are spiking, allotments are limited, and suppliers don’t expect the shortage to let up until late fall at the earliest. Is it time to consider shifting to nitrogen in the cellar? Boston’s Dorchester Brewing offers an example and some guidance.

Joe Stange Aug 18, 2022 - 8 min read

As the CO2 Shortage Drags On, Is Nitrogen an Option for Your Brewery? Primary Image

In-house nitrogen generators. Image: Courtesy Atlas Copco.

For the brewing industry, the tightening in the CO2 market isn’t a new or sudden thing. It’s been an issue for at least two years—one supply-chain problem among many—as suppliers in different parts of the country sometimes come up short.

However, the situation has more recently become “critical in several areas,” in the words of the Brewers Association. It cites a handful of coincident causes:

  • maintenance shutdowns at several ammonia plants that are major CO2 suppliers
  • contamination at Mississippi’s Jackson Dome, an important natural source of CO2
  • shortages of truck drivers
  • peak summer demand

Even if demand wanes as the weather cools, additional plant closings and maintenance will constrain CO2 supply in the next couple of months, according to the industry publication Gasworld. The Compressed Gas Association, meanwhile, says that it doesn’t expect any relief until October or later.

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Joe Stange is Managing Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and the Brewing Industry Guide®. Have story tips or suggestions? Contact him at [email protected].