Beer bottle shortage hits St. Louis area


ST. LOUIS – A beer bottle shortage has hit St. Louis. Area distributors, pub owners, and beer drinkers are feeling the impact.

“When it comes to drinking beer, I like bottles because cans give you an aluminum taste, and I don’t like that,” beer drinker Terry Anderson said over a cold Bud Light at Larry J’s bar in St. Louis County.   

For more than 25 years, Larry J’s sold only bottled beer. That changed last week when his order of Bud Select bottles showed up in cans.   

“So far, it’s been Bud Select and Budweiser Select 55,” Larry J’s owner Larry Kerperine said.   

He got more Bud Select bottles this week but “Select 55” bottles are unavailable, indefinitely.   

Pub operators from St. Louis, to south county, to St. Charles, say certain bottles of liquor have also been hard to get. 

St. Louis area distributors confirm the shortages.   

Webster University economist doctorate Mitch Ellison says the shortages stem from the pandemic shutdowns. Beer lovers drank from bottles at home instead of kegs at the pub.  

Now, with everything reopening nationwide, supply chains are adjusting to keep up. Also, industry consolidation also means fewer suppliers of more of the world’s glass, all of which finds its way to Anderson’s barstool. 

“Since coronavirus and the shutdowns, and people being laid off work, it’s (been) a trickle effect,” Kerperine said.  

“It’s just been one thing after another, whether it’s furniture, whether it’s electronics for automobiles and now glass bottles.”   

The bottle shortage is expected to continue into the fall.   

An Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman acknowledged the impact of a glass bottle shortage saying things should improve in the months ahead. 

She gave the following statement: 

“As a global company, we are fortunate that we can apply learnings from other markets and have visibility into industry trends, allowing us to proactively prepare and make necessary adjustments.

“We continue to carefully observe and scenario plan as it pertains to maintaining supply continuity for both our partners and our consumers, and we have plans in place to effectively manage supply in the months ahead.  Through capabilities like data and analytics and a commitment to open communication with our wholesaler system, together we have put ourselves in a more desirable position than our peers in the beverage industry. 

“We are taking a strategic and proactive approach to facing the ongoing challenges, including investing in additional capabilities, planning ahead , and making hard but informed decisions to prioritize the most important SKUs to maintain offerings for each brand across our portfolio. We expect the situation to improve as we close the summer and head into the latter part of the year.”

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