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Climate change is making beer taste worse

The taste and aroma of European beers is under threat because of a changing climate.

Fundamental Research icon Fundamental Research

Europeans do love their beer. It has been a diet staple for thousands of years, and become deeply ingrained in tradition and culture. In 2022, the 27 EU Member States produced nearly 34.3 billion litres of beer containing alcohol and 1.6 billion litres of beer with under 0.5 % alcohol or no alcohol content. The EU’s total beer production was equivalent to almost 80 litres per inhabitant.

Beer supply shortage on tap

However, according to research published in ‘Nature Communications’, climate change is making it harder to grow hops – a key ingredient in beer besides water, yeast and malt. These aromatic plants give beer its distinctive bitter taste. Hops are mainly grown in Czechia and Germany. The average annual hop yields throughout most of Europe have been declining since the mid-1990s. A research team from the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Cambridge University revealed that hops could decline by as much as 18 % in Europe by 2050. The culprit is warmer, drier weather in recent years. “Aromatic hops from traditional European regions are the ‘spice’ that gives the right taste and aroma to the best premium and craft beers around the world,” lead author and CAS research scientist Martin Možný explained in ‘USA Today’. “It is exported to all countries that produce better beers.”

The bitter news

“One of the side motives of this study was to illustrate how climate change might be important for even those who think it doesn’t matter,” co-author and CAS senior researcher Miroslav Trnka told ‘CNN’. “We are really seeing changes that are affecting things that we value, like the taste of beer. Climate change really can have an effect on it ….” “Beer drinkers will definitely see the climate change, either in the price tag or the quality,” Prof. Trnka added in ‘The Guardian’. “That seems to be inevitable from our data.” The researchers examined hop production for the periods 1971-1994 and 1995-2018 in Czechia, Germany and Slovenia. Findings showed that rising temperatures had shifted the start of the hop-growing season by 13 days from 1970 to 2018. By simulating future crops and climate conditions, they found that there was a decline of nearly 20 % in output in several key hop-growing areas. “Across the pubs of Europe, the most frequent debate except weather and politics is about the … beer,” stated Prof. Trnka. As you’re taking another sip of your favourite beer, keep in mind it’s this very weather and politics that could be affecting its quality and quantity.


beer, climate change, alcohol, hops, aroma, taste