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Monday, June 24, 2024

Can climate change make beers taste bad? Studies say yes

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A new study claims that the number of European hops, which give beers their distinct bitter taste, is declining as hotter, longer, and drier summers can worsen the situation, making beer more expensive. 

Hops, the hop plant’s flower, is the essential fourth ingredient in the beer brewing process, alongside water, yeast, and malt. Brewers add these before the boiling process to add bitterness, but can be incorporated afterward to change the overall flavor. 

The study studied the average yield of aroma hops and how it changed between 1971 and 1994 and again from 1995 to 2018. It discovered a nearly 20 percent output drop in key hop-growing areas. 

Scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Cambridge University pointed to the drier conditions due to recent climate change trends as the possible reason for crop reduction. They also discovered that the alpha bitter acids of the hops, which influence beer flavor, dropped due to higher and more extreme temperatures. 

Beer prices have increased by 13 percent since the pandemic in 2020 due to an increase in energy costs driven by inflation and the gas crisis following the Ukraine invasion. 

Despite global efforts, greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have continued to increase temperatures. The study predicts that the bitter acids will reduce by up to 31 percent by 2050.

Farmers have been working to adapt their growing practices to improve yields, such as installing irrigation systems. However, the study’s authors warn that further investment is needed and say it will be necessary to expand the area used to grow aroma hops by 20 percent to compensate for future decline.

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