Americans consume more than six billion gallons of beer annually, about eighty percent of which is produced in the United States.
To meet this growing demand, it’s imperative that we pay close attention to how climate driven changes are impacting the main ingredients in beer including clean water, barley, and hops. Unfortunately, each of these ingredients faces different risks from our ongoing climate crisis.
First and foremost, water makes up ninety to ninety-five percent of every pint, can, and keg.
The water required to brew beer extends outside of the brewing process and right into the fields where barley and hops are grown. Climate change is contributing to nationwide changes in the quality and quantity of freshwater. Reduced snowpack and groundwater depletion can limit water supplies available for irrigation and brewing.
Lastly, climate changes’ grip on drought and excessive heat may cause shortages and/or price increases for barley and hops; both ingredients are grown out west where we have seen some of the worst impacts of this climate crisis in our country.
Nevertheless, national beer companies and local craft breweries are heeding these climate distress signals. In fact, the small craft brewers are doing it best as they have been establishing practices for efficient water management while analyzing and reducing their carbon footprint. Some local breweries are even raising awareness by serving up concoctions that simulate how beer could taste in a hotter future.