Trouble brewing: Could an extinct Mississippi volcano lead to nationwide beer shortage?

JACKSON, Miss. — The largest carbon dioxide reserve in the U.S., located in Mississippi, is being contaminated by an extinct volcano and it could be a buzz kill for breweries.

A reservoir of carbon dioxide inside the “Jackson Dome” supplies the chemical compound to much of the country. However, according to TIME, the site owner attempted to drill new wells over the summer and found contaminated CO2.

Industry analysts worry that the shutdown of CO2 plants will lead to a shortage of America’s favorite carbonated alcoholic beverage.

“It’s everything in beer,” said Hopper Seely, the president of Grind City Brewing Company. “Nobody wants to drink a flat beer.”

Seely told KCPQ that his company brews more than 3,700 gallons of beer weekly. They’re working on learning how to recapture carbon dioxide.

“It’s very expensive,” he explained. “It’s a lot of equipment and a lot of man hours. You’re usually capturing CO2 that was used during fermentation.”

According to NPR, the brewers struggled with shortages of CO2, aluminum cans and paper during the pandemic due to supply chain challenges. Now they are faced with price spikes as the gas becomes more scarce.

The contamination at Jackson Dome, combined with shutdowns and maintenance of some ammonia plants, whose byproduct is CO2, will likely impact the market, according to NPR.

The good news is that Paul Pflieger, communications director of the Compressed Gas Association trade group, told NPR that things might return to normal in a few months.

“We anticipate things to start reaching some normalcy in the next 30 to 60 days,” Pflieger said.

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