Scientists in “Nature Communications” and “iScience” prove that climate change is deteriorating the quality of beer and will lead to an increase in its prices. The situation is slightly different in the case of wine.
Scientists argue that global warming has a negative impact on the quality and taste of beer. This is related to the decline in European hop yields. Scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Cambridge University compared data in this regard from 1971–1994 and 1995–2018. In some key hop-growing areas, production dropped by almost 20%. Hop inflorescences, popularly called cones, are – next to water, yeast and malt – the fourth key ingredient necessary for beer production. They are added before the brewing process to increase bitterness, or only later to change the overall taste.
Will climate change cause beer prices to increase?
According to experts, warmer, longer and drier summers will make the situation even worse and may result in an increase in beer prices. Due to higher temperatures, the content of hop alpha acids, which affect the bitter taste of beer, decreased. It is estimated that by 2050 it may decrease by up to 31%.
Experts warn hop growers that failure to properly adapt cultivation techniques will threaten its profitability in some areas. The consequence will be lower production and higher prices for breweries. The recommended solutions include: moving crops to higher ground where there is more rainfall and installing irrigation systems. Everything indicates that further investments and an increase in the area of hop cultivation by approximately 20 percent will be necessary.
Warm summer, better wine?
Scientists also point out that warm summers and wet winters produce better wine vintages as long as there is no shortage of water.
After analyzing detailed meteorological data from 1950 to 2020 and sommeliers’ ratings from the Bordeaux wine region in southwestern France, researchers found that higher quality wine is produced in years with higher temperatures and earlier, shorter growing seasons with warmer and more wet springs, hot and dry summers, cool and dry autumns and cool, wetter winters. Due to climate change, there will be more and more such years.
Wine quality in Bordeaux has shown a trend of improvement between 1950 and 2020. This could be due to the warming of the climate during this period, but the increasing use of technology in wine production at that time or producers adapting the techniques used to consumer preferences could have played an important role.
As climate change creates favorable weather patterns for wine quality in Bordeaux, the authors say the quality of wine from the region is likely to continue to improve. But only until the rainfall decreases.
The authors of the publication emphasize that the analyzes carried out can be applied not only to wines from Bordeaux, but also to other wine regions. Further research is planned to confirm this. According to scientists, annual weather fluctuations and climate changes also affect the quality of crops from other perennial crops, e.g. cocoa or coffee.
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