Photos: Wikipedia, Creative commons
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Now There's a Rallying Cry
The quality of Saaz hops, which are required to make pilsner lager, has been decreasing lately, and climatologist Martin Mozny of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute thinks he knows why: Global warming. Indeed, Saaz hops are delicate and the higher air temperatures in the Czech Republic are affecting them negatively.
Saaz hops. Photo: Yorkseed
Level of Alpha Acid Required to Make Beer is Dropping
The team used high-resolution weather pattern, crop yield and hop quality data to gauge the impact of climate change on the Saaz crops between 1954 to 2006. Mozny's team found that the acidity of the hops had dropped 0.06% every year in this time period. Ideally, to get that characteristic delicate bitter pilsner taste, the hops must contain around 5% alpha acid. Unfortunately, this quantity is dropping and showing little sign of stabilizing. In fact, the team predict that it is only going to get worse.
The paper can be found here. Here's the abstract:
The impact of climate change on the production and quality of hops Humulus lupulus will depend on future weather conditions in the growing season. Our simulations suggest that hops will be particularly vulnerable to a change in climate. Even with the modest warming so far experienced yields have stagnated and quality declined. Recorded observations show an increase in air temperature which is associated with an earlier onset of hop phenological phases and a shortening of the vegetation period. Simulations using future climate predict a decline in both yields, of up to 7-10%, and α-acid content, of up to 13-32%, the latter a major determinant of quality. The concentration of hop cultivation in a comparatively small region in the Czech Republic makes it more vulnerable than if the crop were grown in more areas with different climates. Thus climate change may gradually lead to changes in the regionalization of hop production. Policy assistance may be necessary for the adaptation of the Czech hop growing industry to changed climatic conditions.
But of course climate change doesn't stop at the borders of the Czech Republic. Regions of eastern Germany and central Slovakia have noticed similar changes in their crops.
Beer is just an example here. Lots of other crops, plants and animals are being affected by global warming. To keep your beer drinking green, check out Planet Green's guide to eco-friendly East Coast beers and eco-friendly West Coast beers.
Pilsener (aka Pilsner) beer. Photo: Public domain
Via Discovery, New Scientist
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