Climate change is making Czech beer less flavorful and more expensive

Czech beer may soon be a victim of climate change, according to a researcher at the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.10.2023 16:20:00 (updated on 15.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech beer may soon become a side victim of global warming, according to a new study. Climate change is already affecting the taste and quality of Czech beer, warns Miroslav Trnka, a scientist at the Global Change Research Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, as reported by The Guardian.

Trnka is the co-author of a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications that emphasizes that climate change is impacting the quantity and quality of hops, a crucial ingredient in most beers. As a result, Czech beer, a cornerstone of local culture, may become more expensive, and brewers will need to adapt their methods to maintain quality.

The study estimates that if farmers in European growing regions do not adjust to hotter and drier weather, hop yields may decline by 4-18 percent by 2050. Furthermore, the content of alpha acids in hops, which provide beers with their distinctive taste and aroma, is expected to fall by 20-31 percent.

“Beer drinkers will definitely see the climate change, either in the price tag or the quality,” says Trnka. “That seems to be inevitable from our data.”

Czech beer is an integral part of the local culture, and people in the Czech Republic consuming more beer per capita than anywhere else in the world. Beer production is also a significant part of the local economy, with brands like Pilsner Urquell enjoyed locally and exported worldwide.

Climate change and its impact on hop production have become a real concern. Emissions of greenhouse gases are jeopardizing the growth of hops. Researchers have observed a decline in the average annual yield of aroma hops over the years, with some regions experiencing significant production drops.

While the taste of beer depends on various factors, including hops, it plays a pivotal role in shaping the drink's popularity. Trnka highlights that “across the pubs of Europe, the most frequent debate, apart from weather and politics, is about… beer.”

The study underlines that climate change and political decisions, including insufficient efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are jointly influencing the beer industry. Climate targets have been set to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. However, current emission levels indicate that these goals might not be met.

As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, some hop farmers are adjusting their growing strategies. They're relocating gardens to higher altitudes, planting in valleys with better access to water, and modifying the spacing between crop rows.

“Growers of hops will have to go the extra mile to make sure they will get the same quality as today, which probably will mean a need for greater investment just to keep the current level of the product,” Trnka adds.

Despite the external threats, the quality of beer remains paramount in the minds of brewers, and investments are being made to maintain that quality. The effects on this Czech cultural and economic cornerstone remind us that climate change touches every aspect of our lives.

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