BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A national can shortage is now affecting Maryland breweries that have been relying heavily on the sale of packaged goods amid the coronavirus pandemic to stay afloat.

Looking at the stockpile of cans at Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing, it’s hard to believe there’s a shortage, but the brewery cranks out 48,000 cans of beer each week, meaning they go through quite a few.

With many restaurants selling less draft beer due to coronavirus restrictions, cans are more important than ever.

“Putting beers in cans and selling them in cans is our lifeline right now,” Adam Benesch with Union Craft Brewing said.

It’s not just breweries using more cans; the beverage industry as a whole is using more cans and manufacturers are having trouble keeping up.

“When you go to a store these days, you see a lot more aluminum cans for sale than you used to, and that’s what leading to this canned shortage that us as a brewery is facing,” Benesch said.

The shortage has led Union Craft to prioritize its staple brews over new releases.

“It prevented us from putting out a new can this winter that we really wanted to and spent a lot of time and resources to get to this point to be able to do, and we had to pull the plug at the last minute,” Benesch said.

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At DuClaw Brewing Company, the effects of the shortage are also being felt.

“I believe we have orders in that are back-ordered a month and a half to two months, I want to say,” operations director Chris Wood said.

DuClaw has gotten creative, ordering what they call “rescue cans,” which are cans printed with someone else’s design that they will then cover with their own label.

“We’re coming up with alternatives to get it to them faster so there won’t be empty shelves,” Wood said.

It remains to be seen just how long the shortage will last.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll continue to get the supply that we need, but we are keeping a close eye on it and obviously have contingency plans in place,” Benesch said.

As for whether recycling cans will help with the effort, the breweries said it will not.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Sean Streicher

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