Climate change will make beer rare and expensive, scientists warn

According to this study, climate change will lead to severe shortages in beer and price hikes for the beloved beverage.

A new study from Nature Plants, led by agricultural scientist Wei Xie from Peking University, found that the annual yield of barley will decrease as barley-growing regions experience immense droughts and heat waves brought on by climate change.

beer young henrys
Photo: Dani Hansen

No more cold ones? Severe droughts and extreme temperature due to climate change may reduce annual barley, and thus beer, yields around the world.

The study found that barley yields could potentially be reduced anywhere from 3-17%. Since the grain is primarily grown to feed livestock, animals will be given priority over beer brewing, making the beverage even more scarce.

So, beer will become more expensive and within a couple decades, we could potentially forget the simple luxury of cracking a cold one on a hot day. What will it be like to be part of a generation that has never known the sweet taste of a creamy lager or a crisp, refreshing ale?

Countries whose major industry is beer brewing are at the most risk. It is estimated that a standard six pack will cost an additional $4 to $20, maybe even more, in nations where the six-pack is popular, like Ireland, the US, Denmark and Poland.

This isn’t the only beverage to be adversely affected by climate change. Wine, tea and coffee have also taken a hit due to changes in weather patterns brought on by human activity.

While Xie and his associates stress the broader implications of climate change for civilisation, they understand the idea that the beverage is part of “social gatherings and human celebration.”

“Although it may be argued that consuming less beer is not disastrous… there is little doubt that for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer consumption will add insult to injury.”