Global warming, safe water scarcity, and extreme weather phenomena impact our lives in many ways. One of them is the cultivation of crops that are essential in producing the booze we love. The alcohol industry is going to have to deal with new challenges, which means our favorite beverages are going to change. In this article, we try to figure out how climate will change the origin, production processes, and taste of spirits.
Increasing global temperatures change the flavor profile of alcoholic beverages
In a few decades, your favorite wines, whiskies, and beers will not taste the same. Higher temperatures influence the flavors of the spirits dramatically.
Grapes are delicate fruit and climate change will affect the taste and ABV content of your favorite wines. Increased temperature is causing grape vines to develop more sugars, and that means wines will become boozier (from 16% up to 30% ABV). To prevent that, some winemakers harvest grapes earlier, but the problem is, if you pick grapes too early, the grape’s tannins and natural flavourings don't have time to fully develop and the wines will be bland.
Whisky connoisseurs will also taste the difference due to climate changes. You know, that ageing process is highly important in creating the flavor profile of the whisky. Whisky producers have been developing their unique ageing techniques for decades. These techniques require a lot of mastership and facilitative weather conditions: the temperature-induced expansions and contractions cycle the whiskey through the wood of the barrel developing unique flavors and notes. When the weather conditions change, the whisky isn’t going to age the way it was planned and the flaver profile will be different.
By the way, global warming is not just about the temperature rise. Global warming can also cause extreme weather conditions, for example, snowfalls in tropical countries such as Mexico, the land of tequila and mezcal. In 2016, snowfall in Tequila and Lost Altos destroyed millions of agave plants and tequila production was in decline.
Due to the change of climate zones, the production of wines can shift North, yep, Finland and Norway may produce wines. Sounds crazy, we know, but in 20-30 years, the French, Italian, and Australian regions will be too hot to grow grapes and will have to change the grape varieties they grow. That means, their unique wines will taste different.
Global water crisis and alcohol production
Without water, there is no life and no booze. And alcohol is a thirsty industry: producers need water to irrigate the vineyards and crops, to distill and bottle their products.
Is there a solution? What can be done to reduce water usage? Actually, there are many ways to save water and a lot of alcohol brands use water efficiently. For example, Small Beer Co has developed a new method of beer brewing which helps to reduce water intake. To make one pint of small beer, only 1 ½ pint of water is needed instead of 8-10 pints needed for typical beer production. At Nc'nean Distillery, the makers use their own spring water to make their delicious spirits, and they collect and recycle rainwater and use it over and over again. These brands inspire positive changes across the other alcohol makers.
Because growing barley requires a high water intake, beer production is also going to change. For now, there is a massive shortage in barley yields because of climate issues. Eventually, farmers may abandon them if yields keep falling too much. This may lead to an increase in new varieties of beers, made with other ingredients that require less water intake than barley.
Can we change climate change?
The Earth is going to get warmer, and a lot of things will change but it doesn't mean that there is nothing you can do to save your chilled glass of beer or wine.
There are plenty of amazing drink brands doing their best to save your favorite booze. How do they do that?
- They use green energy to produce their products.
- They incorporate sustainable packaging solutions.
- They reuse their wastes, cut water wastes, help to save the bee population, and are doing much more to keep your glasses half full.
And you can help them in their mission. By drinking the good stuff and supporting sustainable spirit brands. Sounds great? We know! It's time to think different and drink different!