Venezuela’s beer industry may be tapped out by the end of August

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CARACAS, VENEZUELA – No matter how you sing it, whether on the streets of Borneo, or Tex-Mex in Austin, or as a polka in Ohio, the song’s the same: “In Heaven, there is no beer. That’s why we drink it here.”

That song has taken on new meaning for beer drinkers in Venezuela. For the past year, just about all beer has come in bottles, apparently because cans are on the country’s growing list of shortages. But soon, there may not be any beer to go into those bottles.

The beer industry is running out of raw materials like barley and hops. Beer makers blame the government, which keeps a tight fist on foreign currency, especially dollars. And since the socialist government hasn’t released funds to import raw materials, Venezuela’s beer drinkers may go thirsty as early as August.

And that’s a lot of dry mouths.

Venezuelans are Latin America’s top beer drinkers, and they are number eight in the whole wide world in the number of beers consumed per person.

The government blames falling oil prices for making life difficult for all Venezuelans. President Nicolas Maduro recently pointed out that the country’s income has fallen by 60 percent because of the drop in oil prices.

If beer is tapped out, more than 100,000 Venezuelans could lose their jobs, not only in the beer industry, but also in all related businesses.

And you can bet they’ll be crying in their beers, if they have any beers to cry in.