Beer threatened by climate change

The adverse effects of climate change are manifold and well documented, but to be honest they aren’t really affecting us here in merry old England so why the hell should we actually care?  

So some country that no one has ever heard of is going to be underwater in a few years?  Fine.  Much of the Netherlands will be flooded? Bovvered.  Swathes of people on the African sub-continent are going be subject to ravaging droughts? Ain’t my problem.

Well not any longer. Climate change has officially become A BAD THING folks.  That pint of cold, frothy, amber liquid that you look forward to at the end of every hard days’ work is now under threat as brewers face up to the affect of climate change on the production of beer.
A report by Times Online has shown that a global water crisis is creating panic among many industries, and is likely to be of particular harm to brewers with a pint of beer containing 95 percent water.

“Of course the ingredients and knowhow that go into making a good pint are crucial, but water is the lifeblood of the brewing,” says David Holmes, master brewer at Shepherd Neame in Faversham, Kent.  

Responsible for creating such favourites as Bishops Finger, Spitfire and Canterbury Jack, Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewery producing 200,000 barrels of beer a year.  Unfortunately Holmes’ brewery is situated in Kent, one of the driest areas in England and already subject to many water restrictions, a situation likely to be pushed to breaking point with expectations that by 2025 there will be shortages of more than a billion litres a day.

Holmes, who is married to a master brewer, the lucky sod, is already trying to adapt to the shortages:

“These days we’re very conscious of water usage. In former times water would be spraying everywhere as barrels and storage tanks were cleaned — it would take 12 or 14 pints of water to make one pint of beer. Now, with strict computer controls, we’ve got that ratio down to between five and six pints of water for one pint of beer.”

And it is not just smaller scale breweries that are being hit. SABMiller, who are responsible for Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller and Grolsch – and therefore responsible for most of the aggravated assaults in and around Wetherspoons pubs – are highly susceptible to the global effects of water shortages.  Producing 37 million pints of beer every year, they are feeling the drain of resources across the globe.

“In many areas we’re going to have to cut back on water usage fairly dramatically.  The beverage industry as a whole is highly aware of the long-term risks water scarcity holds – if the issue isn’t tackled then sales and revenues are going to be hit,” warns Andy Wales, head of sustainable development at SABMiller.

In Australia the situation is looking equally dire.  With further water shortages expected down under and greater competition for small supplies, climate scientist Jim Salinger is not optimistic for the future of beer production. “It will mean either there will be pubs with no beer or the cost of beer will go up,” claimed Salinger, tears falling into his can of Fosters.