Cheers to tears: Climate change threatens taste of beer

The climate crisis is poised to alter the flavour of beer and potentially increase its cost due to declining hop yields and quality, according to a new study

The taste of beer as we know it may undergo significant changes due to the climate crisis, a study warns.

Some of Europe’s hop producers contribute to the citrus, floral and fruity aromas cherished by UK beer drinkers.

As the global brewery sector witnesses a surge in demand for high-quality hops, the effects of climate change on hop yield and aroma remain uncertain.

To evaluate the climate sensitivity of European hops between 1970 and 2050, researchers combined meteorological data and model projections, factoring in a 1.4°C temperature rise and a 24mm decrease in precipitation.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, their findings, encompassing almost 90% of hop-growing regions, indicated that hop ripening began roughly 20 days earlier, production declined by nearly 0.2 tonnes per hectare per year, and the alpha content decreased by approximately 0.6% when comparing data before and after 1994.

Predictions suggest a further decline in hop yield and alpha content by 2050, varying from 4% to 18% and 20% to 31%, respectively.

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