On June 1, aluminum and steel tariffs were imposed upon three major U.S. allies: Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
President Trump initially enacted these metal tariffs worldwide back in March, but the three major trading partners listed above were exempt until now.
When the penalty, a 25% tax on imported steel and a 10% tax on imported aluminum, took effect, the Dow immediately fell about 200 points. Economists predict that this tariff could hit American consumers hard as businesses are forced to pay more for their production equipment and raw materials, and everything from plane tickets to cars to iPhones to canned goods — including, yes, our beloved beer.
Brewers ask for a say in the political process
On May 31, 120 brewers, brewery owners, employees, and state guild representatives descended on Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of the country’s small and independent brewers. The group visited the offices of more than half the United States Congress, logging 325 total visits.
The day the tariffs were announced was coincidentally the day that 120 brewers descended on D.C. for the Brewers Association’s annual march on Washington, where they advocated for a permanent federal excise tax cut in addition to educating their staff on how metal tariffs impact the brewing industry.
“Grassroots lobbying is a key way for brewers to advocate for their business and build relationships with federal legislators,” said Katie Marisic, Brewers Association federal affairs manager. “With more than 6,200 breweries across the country, it is important that small and independent brewers have a say in the political process.
An increase in expenses
Chad Melis of Oskar Blues Brewing in Colorado predicted that the new tariffs could end up costing breweries an additional 20 – 24 cents per case of beer, resulting in an extra $475,000 to $575,000 in annual expenses.
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Bob Pease spent Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., making a last-ditch attempt to persuade policymakers to help craft brewers fend off rising costs when new tariffs on steel and aluminum go into effect Friday. “The opposition to the tariffs was our second-biggest ask for people on the Hill today,” said Pease, president of the Brewers Association, the Boulder-based organization representing craft brewers.
Such a rapid and steep increase in production costs is a worst-case scenario, but one that brewers and beer drinkers should keep in mind moving forward. As the price of aluminum cans and steel production equipment is expected to rise, so is the price of beer, and the future may just consist of lots of glass bottles.