There’s a heatwave, it’s the World Cup soccer quarter finals starting today, and the U.K. is running out of beer. It’s unthinkable but true.
The reason sounds even more preposterous: There’s a shortage of carbon dioxide, you know the stuff that is blamed for global warming. Turns out carbon dioxide is used in beer, soft drinks and various food processes. It is a by-product of ammonia which is used to make fertilizer. Most of the fertilizer manufacturers gear up in winter in order to have stocks ready for spring and summer. In the summertime, they carry out plant maintenance and in some cases close down.
Because of the World Cup, production of beer and soda ramped up creating demand but ammonia production was lower than normal because of lower prices and therefore the supply of carbon dioxide dropped too.
European breweries and soda produces, as well as meat packers and various food processors and shippers are also affected. However the U.K. is faring the worst and only one carbon dioxide producer is in operation. One major beer wholesaler is limiting distribution to just 10 cases per brand per customer. Heineken, the Dutch brewer, has warned of problems but is working around the clock to get beer to its customers.
In an article from Reuters, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Carlsberg and Molson Coors use CO2 recovery systems allowing them to be mainly self-sufficient. Carlsberg also said it would share carbon dioxide from other sites around northern Europe.
The crises can be summed up in the lyrics of a famous Australian outback drinking song, “The Pub With No Beer”:
But there’s nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar, of a pub with no beer