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Impact of Climate Change on Beer Production

submitted on 31 May 2023 by foodndrink.org

A Hop-pening Crisis

Ah, the glorious, amber, bubbly, liquid gold that we all know as beer. Humanity’s gift to itself since time immemorial, or at least since the Ancient Egyptians decided to take a break from pyramid building. But alas, dear connoisseur of this divine elixir, I bring tidings of woe. It appears that climate change, that pesky villain in the ongoing drama of our planet, has decided to maraud the realms of beer production.

The Science of Brewing, or How Climate Change Crashes the Party

Let us dissect the brewing process to understand the impending doom. Beer, in its simplest form, requires four ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. Now imagine attending a posh soiree, and discovering that the host procured only three of the vital ingredients to make a cocktail. The horror, the sheer unmitigated horror! That is what climate change is doing to our beloved brew.

You see, climate change doesn’t play fair. It has targeted the crucial ingredient of hops, the plant responsible for adding bitterness and aroma to your beer. As global temperatures rise, the areas suitable for growing hops are shrinking. The United States, being the second-largest hop producer in the world, is reeling under the impact of droughts and heatwaves. The Yakima Valley, an essential hop-growing region in Washington State, is experiencing a decrease in water supply due to early snowmelt.

But Wait, There's More!

Do not think the barley has been spared by the malevolent forces of climate change. Oh no, the staple grain that is malted and brewed to create the very foundation of beer is also under attack. As temperatures soar and rainfall patterns shift, barley production is threatened. To make matters worse, extreme weather events like heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rainfall can severely impact the quality and quantity of the barley harvest.

The Brewers' Lament

Our dear comrades in beer production, the brewers, are feeling the pinch. A study conducted in 2018 found that beer prices could double as a result of climate change, due to the reduced supply of barley. The craft brewing industry, that bastion of hope in these dark times, is also struggling to secure enough hops and barley to create their delightful concoctions.

If you need further evidence of the havoc climate change is wreaking, look no further than the historic Guinness brewery in Ireland. They have taken drastic measures to reduce their water consumption, owing to the rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. If even the mighty Guinness, with centuries of brewing prowess behind it, feels the heat, what hope have us mere mortals?

The Future of Beer, or How to Save Our Saviour

Fear not, parched reader, for hope springs eternal, and so does humanity’s ingenuity. Our stalwart beer researchers and scientists have taken up arms against the scourge of climate change. Genetic modification may be a controversial topic, but it could prove to be the saviour of hops. Researchers are developing strains of hops that can withstand the rising temperatures and dwindling water supplies.

Environmental initiatives are also being adopted by breweries. They are now harnessing renewable energies, minimizing water wastage, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some are even engaging in sustainable farming practices to grow their barley and hops.

What Can You Do, Dear Devotee of Dionysus?

  • Seek out breweries that adopt sustainable practices and support their efforts.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint by sipping local brews, as transporting beer from far-flung regions can contribute to emissions.
  • Recycle your beer bottles and cans, for the environment and your conscience.
  • Spread the word about the impact of climate change on beer production. You may find it easier to rally support for this cause than explaining the plight of polar bears.
So, let us raise a toast to the future of beer, to the tireless warriors battling climate change, and to the hope that our planet survives humanity’s follies. And with that, I shall take my leave, and partake in the noble pursuit of beer appreciation. Cheers!


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