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Hold my drink: a shortage of aluminum cans might lead to less beer

Because 2020.

Written by
Anna Rahmanan

The year 2020 strikes again: According to beer industry site Brewbound, the United States is facing a beer can shortage. As a result, a lot of your favorite beers might actually disappear from shelves for some time.

Why is this happening? A few reasons: for starters, as people spend more time at home, the beer originally meant to be consumed in kegs at bars and restaurants is now being canned up and sold in retail stores. Folks have also been stocking up on the stuff at home, just as they have with toilet paper and dried goods.

But it isn't only canned beer that Americans are stockpiling. Hard seltzer—also sold in aluminum containers—has been very much in demand in the past few months, compounding the shortage of the 12-ounce can. 

"Prior to COVID, 2020 was already poised for notable can growth across a variety of categories," Scott McCarty, the strategic communications director at Ball can manufacturing company Ball Corporation, told Brewbound. "For instance, hard seltzers have experienced explosive growth as a category and specifically in cans. Soft drinks and the still and sparkling water categories have seen it, too, with marketers shifting their packaging mix toward cans and away from single-use plastics."

Although the problem is widespread, it seems like smaller brands will be hit the hardest as large brewing companies the likes of Brooklyn Brewery and Molson Coors are shifting their strategies and decreasing production of usually slower moving brands to focus, instead, on best-selling options in an effort to maximize the use of the cans available. As a result, your favorite relatively unknown beers might be even harder to find now.

This, we must say, sounds very much on brand for 2020.

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