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Shortage of CO2 Leads Local Brewery to Alternative Carbonation Methods

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 8/14/2022 Aimee Cho, News4 Reporter
© Provided by NBC Washington D.C.

While you might have cracked open a cold one to enjoy Saturday’s preseason football game, the U.S. is experiencing a shortage of carbon dioxide, which produces all that fizz and bubbly in the beer.

Issues with contamination and a train line strike have impacted the carbon dioxide supply around the country. Many local breweries said they're monitoring the situation, thankful that their supplies haven’t fizzled out just yet.

While some breweries are worried about production, others are turning to greener methods to help.

Lone Oak Farm Brewing Company in Olney, Maryland, is one business using alternative methods to prevent products from going flat.

Charlie and Chris Miller, co-owners of the brewery, explained that as the fermentation process happens, carbon dioxide is produced naturally, and a splitting valve captures that natural carbon dioxide.  

That could come in handy if the shortage affects them.

“We would still be able to operate because it's a natural byproduct of brewing. However, the pace at which we're able to produce would be greatly hampered,” Chris Miller said. 

In addition to using what’s created through fermentation, Lone Oak Farm is reusing the carbon dioxide from the finished beer. 

The brewmaster said they use a blend of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the beer that’s served in the tap room.

“When something is super carbonated, it's like a soda that almost burns the back of your throat. Nitrogen helps mellow that out a little bit and makes it a unique blend,” Chris Miller said. 

Lone Oak Farm said its alternative methods are more environmentally friendly. The brewery goes “ground to glass” - growing its own barley and malting it on site.

The owners are hopeful they won’t feel the shortage, but they think they’re prepared for any hiccups along the way.

“It's kind of like farming. You can't worry about the weather. You just have to plant when the sun is shining. So we're gonna keep up doing the best we can,” Chris Miller said. 

News4 reached out to several other breweries in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Many say they haven’t been impacted yet, but they are concerned.

Denizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring, Maryland, confirmed that it’s been difficult to get tanks filled when they need them, and as a result, they’re paying an extra surcharge for alternative sourcing.

The DC Brewer’s Guild says it’s monitoring the shortage.

Editor's Note: The brewery featured in this story is co-owned by News4’s Melissa Mollet’s father and brother.


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