Monday, September 14, 2009

Finally, the clinching argument...

I have withstood the arrows of climate change skeptics with saintly stoicism, I think, but now I find within my grasp the facts that will convert all to enviro-nuts like myself: climate change could ruin our beer!

You heard me right.

IF THE sinking Maldives aren't enough to galvanise action on climate change, could losing a classic beer do it? Climatologist Martin Mozny of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and colleagues say that the quality of Saaz hops - the delicate variety used to make pilsner lager - has been decreasing in recent years. They say the culprit is climate change in the form of increased air temperature.
Mozny's team used a high-resolution dataset of weather patterns, crop yield and hop quality to estimate the impact of climate change on Saaz hops in the Czech Republic between 1954 and 2006. Best-quality Saaz hops contain about 5 per cent alpha acid, the compound that produces the delicate, bitter taste of pilsners.
The study found that the concentration of alpha acids in Saaz hops has fallen by 0.06 per cent a year since 1954, and models of hop yields and quality under future global warming scenarios predict bigger decreases (Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2009.02.006).
It's not just Czech hops that are at stake here, says Francesco Tubiello, a crop specialist at the European Commission and a lead author of the agriculture chapter of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. "The famous hop-growing regions of eastern Germany and central Slovakia are facing the same situation," he says. [More]
So if you look forward to a world where "lite beer*" is considered a legitimate excuse for lager, scoff at will. But I stand firm in my commitment to beer with actual flavor.

*IMHO, "lite beer" is neither one.


Anonymous said...

good quality hops can be grown in other places, but it takes a looong time to get them established. I also agree with your assessment of lite beer.

Anonymous said...

You can keep your Saaz hops. I like my cascade hops and gruit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, climate change is happening and it always has been changing and it is getting warmer and it will keep on getting warmer until it starts getting colder. The big BUT is that climate change is NOT caused by humans! Please do a little research and it won't take long to convince you. Just go back to the 70's and look at the data they used to come up with the global cooling theory.
Cascade hops have the bitterness I like in my ales.