Beer lovers, beware: it’s not just our air, soil, and water that’s threatened by climate change. Rising temperatures and widespread drought may mean that your favorite beer is at risk, too.
A new study reports that the quality and quantity of hops — the source of flavor and fragrance in many beers — is declining in Europe due to rising average temperatures, potentially changing the flavor of beers while increasing beer prices.
Unless growers can adapt to hotter temperatures and drier weather, European hop yields are estimated to fall by 4-18% by 2050. Levels of alpha acids in hops, which provide beer with its signature scent and flavor, are projected to decline by 20-31%.
Why are declining hops yields concerning?
Fewer hops is bad news for beer lovers. As the world becomes hotter, researchers expect to see beer prices rise while quality declines.
“Beer drinkers will definitely see the climate change, either in the price tag or the quality,” Miroslav Trnka, a scientist at the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and co-author of the study, told the Guardian. “That seems to be inevitable from our data.”
What’s being done about declining hops yields?
Brewers and hops growers are already looking to adapt with the changing climate. Growers are working on breeding new varieties of hops that are more resistant to heat and drought. Irrigation to stabilize crop yields is on the rise as well, and some growers are protecting their crops from extreme heat by shading them with solar panels, allowing them to preserve yields as they generate renewable energy for their growing operations.
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