What impact will climate change have on what we eat and what we drink? It’s a question that keeps many scientists occupied and not without reason, global warming can cause some ingredients to change or disappear completely. A recent study has looked specifically at what climate change would do to the global hop production, one of the key ingredients for beer, and the results aren’t promising for beer lovers.
The study, carried out by the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and published in the journal Nature Communications, warns that the beer we drink might very well change in taste. To be able to come to that conclusion, the scientists looked at how climate change impacts the global hop production both from a quantitative and qualitative perspective.
Beer drinkers will definitely see the climate change, either in the price tag or the quality. That seems to be inevitable from our data.Miroslav Trnka, co-author of the study
Mozny et al. demonstrate a climate-induced decline in the quality & quantity of traditional aroma hops across Europe, calling for urgent measures to stabilize international market chains.https://t.co/qt5dlQUAYu— Nature Communications (@NatureComms) October 11, 2023
When it comes to production numbers, the researchers indicate that the yield of hop grown in Europe will likely drop by 4% to 8% by 2050. That is if farmers don’t adapt their growing techniques to the hotter and drier conditions. To be able to come to that conclusion, the researchers compared the hop productions for 1971-1994 and 1995-2018, which saw “a significant production decrease” of 0.13 to 0.27 tons per hectare.
Regarding taste, the study points out that the alpha acids in hops, which gives beers their distinctive taste and smell, will fall by 20% to 31%, meaning the taste and smell of a pint of beer will most certainly change.
If we want to still be able to consume beer in a fairly similar way as nowadays by 2050, according to the scientists conducting the research, “immediate adaptation measures to stabilize an ever-growing global sector” are necessary. Some of the changes they propose are to expand the area of aroma hops by 20% compared to the current production area, to adapt marketing strategies to customers and to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration. However, only time will be able to tell whether or not we’ll enjoy beer in the same way as we do now by 2050.