If you think that the increasing numbers of hot days might be okay as long as you can retreat with a cold craft beer, think again. This week on Beer Notes, we are discussing the effect of a heating planet on our favorite beverage.

Steve Davis, the co-author of a study done at the University of California, Irvine, put the threat of global climate change into terms beer lovers can understand. He modeled the effects of droughts and extreme heat on barley production, and the results are discouraging.

Average yield losses range from 3 to 17% based on the severity of the climate impacts. Since only 20% of barley today is used for beer production while the rest is used as animal feed, limits in yield will limit the availability of barley for beer.

With decreased barley availability,  this new study predicts that the cost of a cold craft beer could double or even triple depending on where you live.

A heating environment is affecting hops production as well. In a 2016 article on climate.gov, Caitlyn Kennedy reported that heat and drought are impacting U.S. hops production especially with the aroma varieties used to flavor beer. Hops production in Germany has seen decreases of as much as 26%. Together, Germany and the United States contribute 2/3 of all hops grown.

For breweries in California, drought conditions have resulted in more reliance on groundwater because the river water is restricted.  Mineral-heavy groundwater can adversely affect the taste of beer.

Some breweries have responded by conserving energy and water. These brewers are also choosing their hops and barley producers based on the growers’ conservation behaviors.

Whatever your belief in the reasons for increasing global temperatures, we can all agree that a hot day is always better with a cold craft beer. For Beer Notes, this is Ann McGinnis Hillyer.

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