Climate crisis will change the taste and price of beer in Europe, scientists say
Global warming is affecting the quantity and quality of ‘hops’ - a key ingredient in most beers.
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A new study has found that global warming is affecting the quantity and quality of ‘hops’ - a key ingredient in most beers. Researchers forecast that the yields in Europe will fall by 4 - 18% by 2050 if farmers do not adapt to hotter and drier weather, meaning the average cost of a pint is likely to shoot up.
Meanwhile, scientists also predicted that the alpha acid content in hops - which is what gives a beer its distinctive taste and smell - will fall by 20 - 31% if temperatures continue to rise, meaning many of the public’s favourite brands may no longer have the same flavour.
“[Data] demonstrates a climate-induced decline in the quality and quantity of traditional aroma hops across Europe,” the report, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, states. This, it argues, “calls for urgent adaptation measures to stabilise international market chains”.
Miroslav Trnka, a scientist at the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and co-author of the study, added: “Beer drinkers will definitely see the [impacts of] climate change, either in the price tag or the quality. That seems to be inevitable from our data.”
Demand for high-quality hops has skyrocketed in recent years as craft beer companies search for strong, unique flavours. However, manafacturers are struggling to keep up, particularly because the soil that hops are grown in is very sensitive to changes in light, heat, and water.
Planet-heating gases will therefore put the plant - and beer - at risk in the future, the report says, unless farmers find a way to “adapt” to limit the impact of climate change on their crops, or, better yet, unless the world finds a way to reverse global warming.
The UK has already experienced the decline in hop yields, but the strongest falls in production have been felt in Slovenia, Portugal, and Spain.
The report says: “Since agricultural droughts are projected to increase with high confidence in southern Europe and with medium confidence in central Europe, it will be necessary to expand the area of aroma hops by 20% compared to the current production area in order to compensate for a future decline.”
It comes after nearly half of the land within the European Union entered “severe” drought over the summer, increasing the pressure on food and drink production.
Beer is the third most popular drink in the world after water and tea.