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.
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.