BILLINGS — It’s that one special day when worlds collide, St. Paddy’s Day meets March Madness. However, customers might have to pay a little bit more for their favorite pint.
Barley shortages paired with rising fuel costs have forced brewers and bar owners to raise their prices.
“We know barley prices are going to be going up. Worldwide demand, we’re not the only country that’s experiencing drought,” said Travis Peterson, owner of Meadowlark Brewing.
Barley prices have shot up more than 11 percent in just two weeks. Wheat prices are also soaring. Peterson says there are a lot of reasons why, from drought to supply shortages.
“You would think it’d be weird to affect a brewery in Montana but fuel prices have jumped really high and that’s only going to trickle down to everything,” Peterson said.
Michael Uhrich, the owner of Carter’s Brewing, had to raise his beer prices.
“We did raise our prices first of the year. Expecting the highest to come, we know they’re coming. Probably the middle of the year we’ll see the biggest effect on barley shortages and barley quality,” Uhrich said.
He says the shortage isn’t limited to just barley.
“Some of the bigger breweries are struggling with aluminum and cans. Price hikes, shortages, minimum ordering requirements,” Uhrich said.
Peterson is having the same issue.
“We’re having a hard time sourcing parts, you know like pump parts, and just standard tri-clamp fittings for all the piping we do out here,” said Peterson.
Both men are worried that the barley shortage will affect the quality of beer that brewers can produce.
While their supplies are Montana grown, the war in Ukraine is also to blame for rising prices. Thirty percent of the world’s supply of grain comes from Russia and Ukraine.
At Hooligan’s Sports Bar and Grill, customers aren’t letting any of that get in the way of some good old-fashioned St. Paddy’s day fun.
“We don’t pay too much attention to beer costs. It’s like we come down here to enjoy the games and just relax and have a good time,” said Kenny Rambold.