Trump tariffs could hurt craft breweries

The tariffs announced by President Trump Thursday could hurt many small businesses which buy steel and aluminum. Craft brewers said the tariff could nickel and dime them into spending thousands of dollars more every year. (WSYX/WTTE)

The tariffs announced by President Trump Thursday could hurt many small businesses which buy steel and aluminum. Craft brewers said the tariff could nickel and dime them into spending thousands of dollars more every year.

The tariff could raise the price of a beer can a penny or two.

"We go through over a million cans per year so a penny per can would have a pretty big impact on us," said Tim Ward, one of the co-owners of North High Brewing in Milo Grogan and the Short North.

Ward said he would have to spend about $15,000 more a year on cans.

"That's a lot for a small business who's trying to grow, hiring new employees," he said.

Business analysts said the craft beer industry is growing rapidly and creating many new jobs, particularly in places like Central Ohio. Adding a penny to the cost of every can would hurt their bottom line.

"There's that tipping point," said Dr. Doug Ross, the chair of the business administration program at Franklin University. "How far can it go up before people will say, 'I won't buy that IPA, I'll buy this instead.'"

Ross said the tariffs are a trade-off.

"We have to really balance the jobs we're going to get in smelting and production versus the jobs we may lose due to the increase in price from the tariffs," he said.

North High and other craft breweries received a tax break from tax reform but Ward said the tariff could almost wipe out all of the money his business just started saving.

"If we have to spend an extra five figures on cans, that hurts," Ward said. "We have to make cuts somewhere else."

Ward says most of the sheet aluminum he buys is made in the US but he's worried American aluminum companies could use the tariffs as an excuse to raise its prices too.

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