The Guardian today features a story about the Cantillon brewery in Brussels which, owner Jean Van Roy says, is suffering as a result of climate change:
“Ideally it must cool at between minus 3C and 8C. But climate change has been notable in the last 20 years. My grandfather 50 years ago brewed from mid-October until May – but I’ve never done that in my life, and I am in my 15th season.”
This reminded us of an exchange we had with a senior figure at one of the larger British breweries last year who said that climate change was among their biggest long-term worries.
In particular, they suggested, cask ale still relies to a great extent on naturally cool pub cellars. (And, as a result, warm summers can already be a problem for cask ale quality.) If those summers last longer, and get hotter, traditional British beer will struggle. Cellar refrigeration is already common but might become absolutely necessary, even in pubs that haven’t needed it in the past.
That’s on top of concerns over how it might affect hop farming and malting barley; a nagging sense of guilt over the amount of water used in brewing; and about the amount of energy used to ship it, and its ingredients, very often under refrigeration.
We’d be interested to hear from others involved in brewing and the pub trade: is climate change on your ‘risk register’?