The bubbles in your lager could be running out as a shortage of commercially produced carbon dioxide (CO2) could see beer sales fall flat.

Brewers, soft drinks producers and food manufacturers have been hit by the major shortages of food grade CO2 as much of Europe competes for vital supplies.

CO2 is a by-product of ammonia and fertiliser production, and ammonia plants are one of the primary sources of food grade CO2 in Europe.

The chemical plants are currently shutdown for annual maintenance, while the sales for many drinks, because of the hot summer, are soaring.

However, CAMRA says there are plenty of natural alternatives to artificially fizzy brews.

In a brewery CO2 is used to purge casks kegs, cans and bottles before filling to remove air and protect against oxidation. CO2 is also used to carbonate some beers and preserve packaged food. CO2 is also used to carbonate some beers and preserve packaged food.

The gas is created as a by-product of the fermentation process and some brewers do reclaim the it and clean it before using it.

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “We are aware of a situation affecting the availability of CO2 across Europe, which has now started to impact beer producers in the UK.

“We have recommended our members to continue to liaise with their providers directly where they have concerns over supply.

“We will continue to monitor the situation carefully. However, given the time of year and the World Cup, this situation has arisen at an unfortunate time for the brewing industry.”

Trade journal Gas World said the shortage was the “worst supply situation to hit the European carbon dioxide (CO2) business in decades”.

However, real ales, cider and perry could be the solution to the bubbling crisis.

CAMRA has acted quickly to reassure drinkers that there will still be plenty of drinks to sup over the summer, while watching the world cup.

CAMRA’s Chief Communications Officer Tom Stainer said if you want bubbles drink real beer (see picture above).

“While CO2 supplies are important to breweries and pubs, we’re confident the industry will find ways to cope with the threatened shortage and we’d urge all suppliers to do what they can to solve the problem. We’d also urge pub owning companies to help their tenants by showing understanding and flexibility if licensees need to stock different products to cope with the issue.

“CO2 is required in brewing and some pubs use it to dispense beers. However licensees and brewers are a resourceful bunch and we’re sure they’ll find ways to improvise – and as real ale, cider and perry is less reliant on CO2 and much easier to dispense without any CO2, it would seem to be a perfect product to help pubs ensure the beer keeps flowing.

“In addition, real ciders and perries are naturally still, making them a refreshing beverage choice in the summer heat. We would hope anyone who’s looking forward to a pint in the pub will take this opportunity try a real ale or a thirst-quenching cider or perry instead.”

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