There are supply bottlenecks in many industries. In the coming weeks, this could also apply to beer, as the brewery association says. The situation is already “extremely tense”. The start of the barbecue and summer season will further exacerbate the problem.

According to the German breweries, beer bottles could become scarce in Germany next summer. The association “Private Breweries Bavaria” speaks of a phenomenon that “usually occurs annually because more beer is drunk in the summer months”. This year, the sharp rise in energy prices and a possible gas embargo or a gas supply stop from Russia would make matters worse, said association spokesman Benedikt Meier.

Glass bottles are made using gas, and the price has risen sharply. A new glass bottle is about twice as expensive as the deposit that the brewery can charge for it. It is to be feared that one or the other brewery could have problems with empties, said Meier. The distribution channels also played a role. The small and medium-sized breweries that sold their beer within a radius of 50 kilometers around the site generally received empties back more quickly.

The general manager of the German Brewers’ Association, Holger Eichele, also expects problems. “We see bottlenecks in the summer at the latest,” he told the “Bild” newspaper. He also cites significantly increased costs for new bottles and the lack of truck drivers as reasons. “The hotter the summer, the more difficult the situation can become.” Eichele called the situation “extremely tense”.

Eichele continued to tell the newspaper: “Those who don’t have long-term contracts currently have to pay 80 percent more for new glass bottles than they did a year ago.” Some breweries are threatened with idling. “They may soon be without bottles.” Consumers should return empties to retailers as quickly as possible to ease the situation.

The Veltins brewery in Sauerland also spoke of a tense situation. “But we don’t see any delivery problems at the moment. The consumer gets the beer they want,” said a company spokesman. Because of the risk of a gas delivery stop, breweries tried to stock up on new bottles. “Currently there is no evidence that it is already tight, the markets are full of goods,” he said.

However, the peak of the season in summer is still to come. Demand is likely to be higher this year than in previous pandemic years. There could also be a holiday effect for empties: because more families are going on vacation again, more empty beer bottles could be left in the cellar for a longer period of time.

The fact that empties that are not returned is becoming a problem is not new. The Grasser brewery from Franconia in Bavaria had already called for empty beer bottles to be brought back in November. “We really tried everything. We bought new crates, we ordered a lot of bottles, but it didn’t help: we’re sitting on the dry end,” wrote the manufacturer of Huppendorfer beer on Facebook at the time. “Now it’s your turn! Please return your empties! We really need you to do your part!”