Local brewery combats climate change to preserve craft beer

Brewing Troubles
Brewing Battle

Beer makers around the country are facing new issues that some say are being caused by climate change and increasing droughts.

In fact, the very ingredients necessary to make the craft beer many love, like hops, are becoming harder to come by as a result.

“We are reaching this kind of tipping point where what we’ve been used to in terms of how much rain we’re gonna get and how plants grow is no longer the norm,” said Dr. Joshua Fisher, a NASA JPL climate scientist.

This trend is becoming evident in breweries facing some of the most severe climate conditions.

“Almost all U.S. hop production happens in the Pacific Northwest, a region with a historically mild and rainy climate. This year wildfires have sprung up throughout the PNW, which is almost unprecedented. If the strains of demand and poor climate continue to grow in severity, we might see smaller craft breweries struggle to find raw ingredients,” said Vincent Valentino, sustainability manager at Land-Grant Brewing Co. in Columbus.

Valentino’s position was created because breweries like Land-Grant believe so strongly in the connection between climate change and beer.

While evidence of climate change is less evident in the Midwest than in the country’s coastal regions, Valentino maintains that it is a responsibility for smaller, urban breweries to take action.

“Smaller craft breweries are the engine of growth in the US craft beer market. As such, the demand for hops, both American and European, will continue to grow as all of these smaller breweries mature,” Valentino said. “At the same time as the market demand increases, the strain on the hop growers will increase as they face new and less-than-ideal growing climates.”

As a means of taking action, Land-Grant has already started to adjust some of the practices and methods they use to create their beer.

“In our first year we've focused on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions through energy consumption, diverting some of our brewing byproducts by partnering with local urban farmers - such as St. Stephen's Community Center and OSU Waterman Farms - and pursuing zero waste at our large scale events,” Valentino said.

The local beer makers at Land-Grant have several other projects up their sleeves for the upcoming year. Check back with 10TV on air and online for the latest details.