Houston craft brewers brace for new tariff impacts

Sunday, March 11, 2018
Houston craft brewers brace for new tariff impacts
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Houston craft brewers brace for new tariff impacts

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- New tariffs signed this week in the White House may have real-life consequences for American manufacturers and consumers.

Consider the beer you drink.

Whether it's in cans or from kegs, it involves aluminum, and the imported material, except that producers in trade partner countries such as Canada and Mexico, would be subject to a 10-percent tariff.

At St. Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, that's a concern.

"We have aluminum cans, aluminum kegs and fermentation tanks that are essential to our business," said St. Arnold spokesperson Priscilla Walker. "If we want to buy more tanks or get more kegs and the price of that goes up, it could hinder our room for expansion."

Craft breweries have grown in recent years, more than doubling the number of workers, according to an industry group. The breweries pale in comparison to national distributors that could withstand the added cost of tariffs. The group predicts it could cost jobs on the craft brewery level.

The U.S. construction industry is faced with a 25-percent tariff on imported steel. While steel is still produced in the country, much of it is imported from overseas.

"It will make building things more expensive,' said Lauro Cantu, who works in the construction business.

For bars, kegs are supplied by distributors, but require a deposit. One manager expected the price of a deposit to go up if and when the tariffs are actually imposed.

Already in Europe, tariffs are being threatened on everything from imported Wisconsin cheese, Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, to Harley-Davidson motorcycles.