There are hundreds of microbreweries scattered across the Mountain West. In fact, in parts of our region there are more breweries per capita than most anywhere else in the country.
Many of them sell their beers in aluminum cans. So with the Trump administration’s proposal to slap a steep tariff on imported aluminum, the beer industry is feeling nervous.
Matt Leow, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association, says the tariff means cans could cost a penny more.
“Which may not sound like a whole lot, but we start to multiply that out, even a small brewery, brewing under ten thousand barrels a year, we’re talking about thousands of dollars,” he says.
It would also cost millions of dollars for the entire U.S. brewing industry, according to the Beer Institute. They’re a D.C.-based trade organization.
“There’s only two ways to do the math," says Paul Marshall, an owner of Draught Works Brewery in Missoula, Montana. "Either we eat the cost, or we pass the cost onto our consumers. And that’s always an uncomfortable. There’s no good answer to that when you have rising costs.”
MillerCoors, which operates a massive brewery in Colorado, said on Twitter the tariffs could also lead to a loss of jobs in the industry.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.