Could There be Beer Crisis? Breweries Could be Stifled by Gas Shortages

If natural gas supplies were interrupted, breweries would only be able to produce and sell a limited amount, said Zdeněk Kovář, a spokesman for Plzeňské Prazdroje.

According to him, the interruption of gas supplies would have a major impact on the entire brewing industry, including suppliers. Prazdroj is the largest brewery in the Czech Republic and uses gas in malthouses and breweries.

Gas accounts for roughly 40 percent of the energy used for the production of beer and malt. According to Kovář, Prazdroj’s long-term strategy is to reduce the consumption of natural gas and replace it with renewable sources.

“If there was a complete reduction in gas supplies, including reserves, it would have a major impact on the entire brewing industry,
including our suppliers. We would be able to produce and sell in limited quantities,” the spokesperson added.

Concerns about a stoppage of Russian gas supplies persist due to geopolitical tensions. The main route for the supply of Russian gas to the EU is the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Gas deliveries through this pipeline increased to 40 percent of the pipeline’s capacity on Thursday, the same level as before the start of the 10-day maintenance of the facility. Fears that the gas would not flow after maintenance were thus relaxed for the time being.

“We are monitoring the situation on the gas market and are in regular contact with our suppliers, with whom we resolve everything. According to current information, gas started flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline again (Thursday), albeit in limited quantities,” he said.

Part of the heating in the brewery in Pilsen is now provided by so-called green heat, i.e. steam produced by burning biomass, which the brewery buys from the neighboring company Plzeňská teplárenská. Prazdroje’s long-term strategy is to reduce natural gas consumption.

He wants to replace it with renewable sources, for example, heat pumps for “green electricity”, or renewable variants, such as biogas and others.

Many breweries are still reeling from slowed sales during the pandemic when bars were closed. A loss of natural gas could put the nail in the coffin for a number of smaller Czech breweries that rely on local sales to stay afloat.

Due to the rising costs of energy, packaging and raw materials, Prazdroj has increased the price of draft beer by one crown since April this year, along with many other brands, like Pilsner Urquell, Radegast, Gambrinus, Velkopopovický Kozel and Birell. The prices of bottled and canned beer have not changed.

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