The price you pay for a cold brew may be on the rise.
It's getting more expensive for breweries to can beer thanks to the tariff on imports of European steel and aluminum that went into effect at the beginning of June. The price of steel went up by 25 percent and aluminum by 10 percent.
Wilmington Brewing Company said it hasn't felt the effects of the tariff yet, but is bracing itself.
WBC cans beers every other week with up to 6,000 in one canning session. About four of the company's 15 beers on draft are canned beers and the brewery also relies on steel for its kegs.
Co-owner Michelle Savard said she hopes to not raise prices for customers.
“When we first heard about (the tariffs), it was a little worrisome because we’re canning every other week now," Savard said. "We’re canning a lot of beer, a lot of aluminum, but it hasn’t influenced us quite yet.”
“I’m kind of waiting for it to hit, I guess, and from there if it does affect us. We’d probably have to look for other can suppliers to keep the cost down so we won’t pass it on,” Savard said.
Workers at Waterman’s Brewing Company aren’t waiting for the tariffs to hit.
“You feel like it’s not fair right away, and you’re like, why?" Waterman's Brewmaster Zac Brown said. "What is the reason for this and the lack of control over something that we all work really hard for in this industry? Another weight on our back is not a welcome thing.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be throwing our tanks in the ocean like they did with tea back in the day.”
The brewery’s owner went to Washington, D.C., to talk to lawmakers about exempting the industry from the tariffs. Waterman's had been making more money thanks to a tax overhaul bill for local breweries that started at the beginning of 2018.
“The win with the ex-tax was a win, and was awesome, and then this tariff that was imposed upon us almost negates that,” Brown said.
Waterman’s recently got into the canned beer game, but Brown said the tariffs won’t stop him.
“In many ways, if you stop, they’ve already won and so you’ve got to keep going and take the hit for a while until things do change," Brown said. "Continuing to participate in the canning process and the culture of cans in the craft beer industry, I think, is probably more important than digging your feet in the ground and saying, 'No.'”
Waterman’s also relies on the metals for kegs and for brewing equipment. It hasn’t been affected by the tariffs, but companies Waterman's buy from are prepping for cost increases.
Brown said he's hopeful Waterman's won't have to pass along those price increases to customers.
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