Water, barley, hops, and yeast. To many beer purists, these are the four ingredients, and the only four, that are allowed in beer. Most brewers are a bit more open-minded about what goes into their beers, of course. But climate change might soon make those four ingredients too expensive to drink. NASA’s projections for the future include warmer winters, more intense hurricanes, droughts, and more importantly, vast shifts in the crops we grow, the resources we have at our disposal, and how we’ll have to manage them. Here’s what’ll take their place:
Let’s deal with water, first. That the planet is approaching a water crisis is hardly news. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience an absolute water scarcity, and most of the rest will be under “water-stressed” conditions, and that will mean drastic shifts in the water we use and what we use it for. If you think your favorite craft beer is on the priority list, guess again.
The recent drought in California meant craft brewers had to come up with a string of inventive ideas, ranging from Fallbrook Brewing’s extensive efforts to recycle and conserve water to Bear Republic having to withdraw from distribution and dig two new wells in the town of Cloverdale.
Long term, though, beer will have to be made from “recycled” water. Whether that’s Stone’s sewage water beer, Maverick’s more extensive greywater plan, or more filtering processes, odds are, the beer you drink won’t be coming from the mountain streams of those Coors ads.