COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Three Columbus breweries have heard about the carbon dioxide shortage shutting down beer-making across the country, but it hasn’t stopped these brewers yet.
In other parts of America, smaller breweries are shutting down after a carbon dioxide production shortage caused by natural contamination at the Jackson Dome — a Mississippi reservoir of CO2 from an extinct volcano.
But three of Columbus’s popular breweries — Land Grant, Wolf’s Ridge, and 1487 Brewery all say they are fine on CO2, for the moment.
Land Grant relies on CO2
“I am aware of it,” said Chris Helderman, director of brewing operations at Land Grant Brewing Company about the shortage. “And if we could not get CO2, that would shut down production for us until we got it back.”
Without CO2, “we’d just be sitting there until we got CO2 again.”
“Besides actually brewing the beer, which is a boiling process, we can’t finish cleaning a tank, we can’t finish packaging any beer, we can’t move any beer from one tank to another, can’t keg any beer. So it is very, very important to the process,” Helderman said.
During cleaning of the tanks, the brewers take all the oxygen out of the tanks either with CO2 or with nitrogen, Helderman said. “It creates an unsuitable environment for most bugs to grow in, that being beer spoilage or microorganisms.”
However, the CO2 supplier has warned Land Grant of the shortage and that it might impact them later.
“We have seen some lags,” Helderman said. “Our tank’s got a little more empty than it typically does. But for the most part we haven’t had any production issues.”
There has been a slight price increase, but Land Grant’s contract with the CO2 supplier keeps prices steady.
Little CO2 in German brewing process
At 1487 Brewery in Marysville, owner Benjamin King said they require little CO2 to make their beers.
“We do naturally carbonate to a point,” King said, “but we still add CO2 as needed and use CO2 to push beer. Fortunately, CO2 is a naturally occurring gas during fermentation of beer. Because we are a German brewery, I designed my vessels to capture the CO2, so we use a lot of natural CO2 to the beer to carbonate it.”
King said they buy bulk CO2, which is tanked onto the property and pumped into a spout on the outside of the building.
“We did get a letter saying prices might go up, but we are not anticipating any supply shortages,” King said.
Not aware of CO2 problem in Ohio
At Wolf’s Ridge, they are fine on CO2, and not aware that it’s a problem for Ohio brewers.
“As far as we know, this isn’t an issue in Ohio,” said Chris Davison, Head Brewer at Wolf’s Ridge about the CO2 shortage.