A tariff on aluminum could hurt Wisconsin breweries and beer prices

Local News

Ordering a can of beer from a bar, or picking up a twelve-pack from the store could be a little more expensive if President Donald Trump puts a tariff on aluminum imports.

The tariff could be hard on breweries — especially smaller ones — because if the tariff gets going, then the demand for aluminum goes up, and so will the price for making beer cans.

For businesses small like ours, and even large businesses that use aluminum around the country, this tariff will end up raising prices of raw materials for us and anyone else using aluminum,” Brad Stillmank, owner of Stillmank Brewing Company in Green Bay, explained.

Brad Stillmank says he buys aluminum from American manufacturers to make his beer cans.

“Across the board though, this tariff is going to raise the price no matter what, if it actually is imposed,” Stillmank said. “You know, this isn’t something like, aluminum costs more to manufacture anymore, this is just saying hey, this is going to be harder to get, so the price is going to go up.”

Stillmank says that 55% of all of his brewery’s sales come from canned beer, which is sold in a combined total of 350 bars, stores, and gas stations. 

So for a small, hometown brewery with growing success, could the aluminum tariff hurt the business?

“Every time we turn around we’re looking to save literally a penny wherever we can,” Stillmank said. “That’s to make sure that we’re paying our employees, hiring more people.”

A tariff on aluminum might also raise the price of canned beer.

Stillmank says he doesn’t want to, but as a small business, it can’t be ruled out completely. 

“We want to offer our brands for a competitive and fair price to the consumers, so we’re going to work really, really hard to make sure we can stay in that position,” he said.

With Wisconsin exporting nearly $5 billion worth of goods each year, a trade war would have a direct impact on industry and jobs right here in Northeast Wisconsin.

Wisconsin has just 983 workers in the steel and aluminum industry, but 223,785 Wisconsin workers are in industries that use the metals, according to the BBLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. 

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