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Norwich pubs will ‘call in favours’ to ensure beer keeps flowing as CO2 shortage bites

PUBLISHED: 16:38 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 21 June 2018

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers at Timberhill, says the crunch period for pubs facing a shortage of CO2 will come in around three weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers at Timberhill, says the crunch period for pubs facing a shortage of CO2 will come in around three weeks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A Norwich landlord says he may have to call in favours with suppliers to ensure a potential beer shortage doesn’t hit trade over the crucial summer period.

Cellar House landlady Victoria Macdonald has already had problems ordering beer supplies, but says the pub has enough to last at least a week. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY.Cellar House landlady Victoria Macdonald has already had problems ordering beer supplies, but says the pub has enough to last at least a week. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY.

Major international brewers including Heineken have seen production slowed by a Europe-wide shortage of the gas, which is used to carbonate beer and fizzy drinks.

However, Norfolk and Suffolk pubs and breweries say they have enough to keep drinkers satisfied during this weekend’s crunch England World Cup tie – but could run into problems if supplies of CO2 are not quickly returned to normal.

Phil Cutter, landlord of the Murderers in Norwich’s Timberhill, said he thought the crunch would come in around three weeks.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem during the World Cup, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens afterwards,” he said.

“You need gas to push through the pumps and lines. You can run a pub even without electricity for a while, but without gas, change or beer, you’re going to find it difficult.”

He added: “At times like these, relationships matter. I get on well with my suppliers so it may be that I have to call in a favour or two.”

Mr Cutter also warned that fears about supply could lead to bulk-buying, which would then make supplies scarcer.

Victoria MacDonald, who runs Norfolk pubs the Cellar House in Eaton, Old Ram in Tivetshall St Mary, White Lodge in South Norfolk and The Buck Inn in Thorpe St Andrew, said she had encountered problems placing an order on Thursday, but had enough beer supplies to last for at least a week.

“We can get Heineken but it seems like there’s no Amstel and no Birra Moretti,” she said.

“I need to speak to Enterprise [Inns] as I’m sure they’ll be working with us to get an answer soon.”

Drinks makers Britvic in Norwich said it was monitoring the situation closely, while Wetherspoon admitted a prolonged shortage would hit its pubs.

Southwold brewer Adnams said it was aware of the shortage but did “not envisage any issues with supply to our customers”.

“We currently have good stocks of both packaged and keg products. We will of course keep monitoring the situation, and are in contact with our CO2 suppliers,” said a spokesman.

Industry sources said the shortage was likely to last for the rest of June, though individual companies have been working with their supplies to ensure demand is met.

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