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New tariffs could impact local breweries

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FARGO, N.D. — The tariffs on steel and aluminum that President Trump approved Thursday afternoon could impact one of Fargo's and North Dakota's growing industries: brewing.

While brewers want to stay out of the politics, there is concern about the impact the decision will have on their business.

After just five years, Fargo Brewing has plenty to brag about.

The company's local beer is now sold in a thousand bars and restaurants across four states. Their product uses aluminum cans.

"Our whole building is filled with steel and aluminum," says co-founder Aaron Hill.

They bought 650,000 of them last year, filling them with their popular brewed beers.

So, with news of tariffs on aluminum, there is concern.

"It's kind of an anxious time right now, knowing something is about to happen," says Hill. "We don't know exactly how it will affect us, but we know it will affect us."

While bottles are the number one choice for brewers, the can is becoming the go-to nationwide.

"Ultimately, if our can costs go up, we'd love to say we'll just eat that cost, and everybody gets the same priced beer but ultimately I don't think we're going to be able to do that," says Hill.

Brewers like the guys at Fargo Brewing want to stay clear of the D.C. politics, but the National Brewers Association strongly opposes the tariffs, which are expected to hit the small independent brewers the hardest.

"They tend to be good advocates for some of the smaller breweries," says Hill. "This is going to hurt, especially the smaller ones that don't have the buying power or that maybe can't absorb some of the increases. If you're a young, startup brewery, and every single penny, literally every penny makes a difference, this is going to hurt those breweries."

The tariffs come at a time when new brewers are just getting into the business, or existing breweries are expanding.

Some in the industry are advising to see how the whole tariff talk shakes out before jumping into the sud storm.

When Fargo brewing started, it sold 15,000 cases of its beer.

Now, that has jumped to 73,000 cases to bars and liquor stores.