Acknowledging the overarching significance of climate change is a shared understanding that transcends geographical boundaries and societal divisions. However, what many may find surprising is the extent to which this global predicament infiltrates the most cherished aspects of our daily lives, including our favorite beverages. A recent study conducted by the Czech Academy of Sciences has cast a spotlight on an unexpected casualty of climate change: the beloved drink: beer.
It reveals a sobering reality, suggesting that the cultivation of European hops, a cornerstone ingredient in brewing, will face escalating challenges.
Czech scientists who, as we are sure, know a thing or two about beer firsthand say that climate change can affect both hop yields and alpha acid content.
|What Are Alfa Acids?
Alpha acids, also known as α-acids, represent chemical compounds originating from the Humulus lupulus, commonly known as the hop plant. These compounds are located within the resin glands of the hop plant’s flowers, serving as the primary origin of hop bitterness. The bitterness associated with hops is primarily attributed to the isomerization of alpha acids during the boiling process of the wort, where they undergo a transformation that enhances their contribution to the overall flavor profile of the beverage.
According to the researchers, the EU may face a 4 to 18 percent decrease in the yields of traditional aroma hops by 2050, accompanied by a 20 to 31 percent decline in α-acid content. Moreover, the study found that this decline has occurred for some time now, at least since the 1970s.
The principal investigator, Martin Mozny, and his team extensively examined the yield and α-acids content in 90% of the regions in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia where European beer hops are cultivated. The study spanned from 1971 to 2018, revealing a notable trend since 1994. During this period, hops were observed to ripen 20 days earlier each year, accompanied by an annual decline in production by 0.2 tonnes per hectare (approx. 178 pounds per acre). To provide some context, an acre typically yields approximately 1,800 pounds (816 kg) of hops annually in the United States. This indicates a discernible shift in the dynamics of hop cultivation, with potential implications for the brewing industry.
We at b33r.xyz are extremely worried about this trend and hope for immediate action to tackle climate change. We cannot let European beer production decline any further, as we enjoy so many great European beers.