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Climate Change: Bad News for Beer Drinkers

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 12:47:30 PM EST

Climate change will force the beer lovers around the world especially in Australia & New Zealand (right now) to shell out extra money to buy the drink, which could taste different, a scientist warned on Tuesday. Climate change could cause a drop in beer production within 25 years, worldwide.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger said climate change could see a decline of malting barley production in parts of New Zealand, Australia and spreading to the rest of the world.

Sen. Inhofe (R.OK) and countless other doubters will tell you that it's a Giant Hoax, doncha know? Bleh, I hope they find flies in their small beer!

Searching the web for articles related to this, I am astounded that not a single site has mentioned water, odd since the water content in any beer is more than 90% and consequently plays a major role in the final product.


Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention in Auckland that by 2100, the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases - measured in equivalent amounts of carbon dioxide - would be double, and possibly four times pre-industrial levels, leading to further climate warming.

"It will provide a lot of challenges for the brewing industry," he said, adding breweries could be forced to look at new varieties of malt altering the taste of the drink.

Lion Nathan corporate affairs director Liz Read said climate change was forcing the price of malted barley, sugar, aluminum and sugar up and the cost would be passed on to the consumer.

"The pressure is on grain suppliers and food suppliers world-wide," she said.

A few facts about beer (I fancied myself as a "boutique" brewer a couple of years ago. I spent some time pricing up a small brewery and did quite a bit of research on beer-making. The idea was quickly scuttled as the cost of a start-up was horrific, well beyond what my bank manager would let me play with!): the best water for brewing beer and the most prized is from natural sources which contain elements not found in other water sources.

Two of the major elements are Calcium and Magnesium. These two add the hardness in hard water and although unwelcome when they cause your glasses to spot in the dishwasher, they are crucial when it comes to making a fine beer. Not only do they add a desirable mouth feel of their own, but they also aid many of the biochemical processes taking place during brewing. Calcium, for instance, helps produce an acid that balances the alkaline phosphates found in malts. Control of that acidity and alkalinity, also known as pH, is vital for the activity of enzymes that take part in the beer brewing process. Magnesium is essential because it is used by yeast in the production of enzymes required for fermentation. But, as luck would have it, Magnesium can compete with Calcium and so its concentration has to be carefully controlled for proper results.

Some naturally occurring or artificially added components are not desirable when it comes to beer making. Chlorine, for instance, helps keep bacteria from building up in tap water supplies, but it adds a bitter taste and can contribute to killing yeast. Fortunately, it is a volatile element that can be easily removed by boiling or carbon filtration.

Sodium, contributes a salty taste, but at a too high concentration it can kill yeast. Most natural sources contain a reasonable amount, but control of salinity at beer making sites near a sea river conjunction is important.

Even trace elements, such as Zinc and Copper play an important role in many brewing processes, since they figure prominently in yeast metabolism. It is the yeast that turns malt sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide during fermentation. High levels can contribute to a foggy or cloudy appearance to the beer. Other elements and compounds include Sulfates, which give a dry, sharp flavor and can compliment hops. This feature is frequently used in some British ales, but in too high a concentration it can make the ale excessively bitter.

Carbonates, promote the extraction of tannins from hops and grains. Barley is a grain and goes into making malt sugar, used in fermentation. They help promote darker colors in some beers and provide alkalinity to balance the acids.

Since every dark cloud has a silver lining, news from a conference tells us that better barley breeds could be the salvation for the beer brewing industry as global warming threatens crop production.

And for those of you who would like to cry in to your beer after reading this depressing news, there's a site that allows you to do just that! I kid you not.

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Someone bring Helen round, I think she's fainted. ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 01:01:28 PM EST
I had a bad moment, but I'm okay. May need a beer to recover tho.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:06:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well as long as you didn't fall and damage your drinking arm.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:37:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a professional, and I have a spare

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:44:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah Ambidrinkstrous!

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:48:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh and how do you get someone to pay you to drink?

<Readies job aplication>

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm aware of this as a possibility, but I tend to reserving judgement.

As far as I remember, US 6-row strains are more susceptible to these issues than European 2-row. However, of far more import is the re-distribution of grain growing as climate changes and also as more land is devoted to food by dictat. Barley is a marginal crop generally brewed to order and can suffer from fluctuations.

I remain hopeful that more of the old grain growing areas east of Moscow will be brought back into production. There's an awful lot of land out there that could be productive with some effort.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 02:12:01 PM EST
European Tribune - Climate Change: Bad News for Beer Drinkers
I spent some time pricing up a small brewery and did quite a bit of research on beer-making. The idea was quickly scuttled as the cost of a start-up was horrific, well beyond what my bank manager would let me play with!)

Now, I don't think we ever had a Diary specifically about an ET Beer Partnership, but I seem to recall some discussion....

There is certainly a brewery in Germany that pays its dividend in beer.

I propose taking this one step further to fund the necessary kit by issuing units/ "shares" redeemable in beer and selling them at a suitable price to investors.

As with

Deli Dollars

the result is a simple new asset class of "Beer Units" which:

(a) "hedge" beer price inflation;

(b) could be "beer money"  acceptable locally as an alternative to conventional bank money which is not based on very much at all;

(c) you can exchange any time against beer (hic..!).

What would undoubtedly happen is that only a relatively low proportion of "beer units" get cashed in for beer.

That fact is of course what goldsmiths relied upon when they put gold on their "bancs" for safekeeping and created more receipts than they actually had gold....thereby inventing modern banking.

The founder and managing partner of the brewery could then simply agree to share proportionally the net production with whoever owned the relevant land and buildings.  

It would be necessary to bring in local barley suppliers as partners as well, I would think, or there  could be problems.

And of course, you would need "Quality Control" - Hello Helen!

I would certainly drink to that!

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 03:01:10 PM EST
I spent some time pricing up a small brewery and did quite a bit of research on beer-making. The idea was quickly scuttled as the cost of a start-up was horrific, well beyond what my bank manager would let me play with!)

I was interested in this as you can pick up a small brewery for about £10,000 (13,000 euros). As for the water, the process is known as Burtonization and standard kits are available.

Just reassure me you would never use brewing candy or rice.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 03:47:12 PM EST
The quote I got in the west of Ireland was in the region of over 100,000, everything had to be imported from the Czech Republic (the brewer I had in mind to start up the company was a Czech citizen whose father is a legendary brewer in Prague). I'm in the wine business now, well, have been for the last 30 years...
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 10:18:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The micro brewing revolution has entirely changed the economics of brewery installations in the last decade or so.

It's actually a long term idea I have for eastern europe. I think it could be quite lucrative if done correctly.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 09:19:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fear not Helen, all is not lost.  There will still be plenty of temperate zones suitable for growing Barley even in a warming world.  Malting barley, in particular, is best when it is low on nitrates and thus needs less fertiliser/energy input than food varieties.  

Global warming will have very different effects in different parts of the world - creating droughts in some areas and more rainfall in others.  Thus traditional malting barley growing regions may change - as will those for Hops.

As far as water supplies go - well its a question of priorities - should scare water resources go for beer or for swimming pools?  Something tells me that water for beer will be the last water use to be cut.  After all its medicinal, nutritional, hydrational and convivial - what better combination can you get!!!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 10th, 2008 at 11:04:45 AM EST


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