Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – A nationwide carbon dioxide shortage is affecting many breweries on the east and west coasts.
The shortage came after the recent contamination of a carbon dioxide production center in Mississippi.
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is an essential part of the beer production process.
Closer to home, Alaskan Brewing Company does not face a CO2 supply problem as the brewer manufactures its own gas.
In 1998, Alaskan became the first craft brewery in the United States to install and operate a CO2 recovery system. The system captures and cleans carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the brewing process. During the fermentation process, yeast creates the byproduct of CO2.
Alaskan uses CO2 to pack beer and purge oxygen from tanks. The system eliminated the need to ship CO2 tanks to Juneau.
Dave Martin, Quality Assurance and Engineering Manager at Alaskan, said: “CO2 is a natural gas that the yeast produces during fermentation. So they consume the sugars, create alcohol and also give off Instead of just letting that go into the atmosphere, we capture all that CO2, clean it, purge it of all contaminants, then store it and we can reuse it to carbonate our products.
“We have also introduced a nitrogen generator. So many areas of the plant where we used to use CO2 just as a purge gas, or as a gas to push beer through the lines, a lot of it has been replaced with nitrogen, which is inert, so we don’t need to use as much CO2 anymore.”
According to Alaskan’s website, the system prevents over a million pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year.