UK – A recent study by scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Cambridge University has revealed that climate change could diminish the quality and quality of hops and thus result in pricey lower quality beers.
According to Martin Mozny, a co-author of a research titled “Climate-Induced Decline in the Quality and Quantity of European Hops Calls for Immediate Adaptation Measures,” the growth of European hops declined by nearly 20% between 1995 and 2018 compared to the previous 23 years.
The study attributes the decline in hope production in the region to drier conditions likely resulting from recent climate change which are also said to have an impact on the quality of the hops available in the market.
Alongside water, yeast, and malt, hops – the flowers of the hop plant – are added as the crucial ingredient in the beer brewing process.
They are added before the boiling process to add bitterness but can also be added afterward to alter the overall flavor.
These compounds which influence beer flavor are predicted to decrease by up to 31% by 2050 resulting in a noticeable decline in the quality of beer.
Beer, the third most widely consumed beverage globally after water and tea, holds a significant place in European culture, with the UK alone selling 8.5 billion pints, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.
With a surge in the craft beer industry and increasing demand for beers with distinctive flavors, there is a growing need for high-quality hops.
Unfortunately, supply is dwindling creating fears that brewers may in future lack the one ingredient that is crucial to achieving the distinct flavors associated with beer.
Scientists also predict that hotter, longer, and drier summers will exacerbate the situation, potentially leading to higher beer prices.
This is compounded by a 13% increase in prices since the COVID-2019 pandemic, driven by rising energy costs due to inflation and the gas crisis following the Ukraine invasion.
Therefore, scientists suggest that hop farmers must adapt to climate change by adjusting their farming techniques, including relocating hop gardens, building irrigation systems, and breeding more drought-resistant hop varieties to boost production.
“Failure to adapt will jeopardize the profitability of hop growing in some areas. The consequence will be lower production and a higher price for brewers, “Martin emphasized.