Originally published in the American Society of Brewing Chemists The Buzz Newsletter
By Dr. Yin Li, Malteurop North America
No Barley, No Beer! The challenges of drought in the malting and brewing industry are an emerging topic, as the impacts of climate change and drought continue to be felt worldwide. As we know, drought can significantly impact barley production, leading to lower yields and lower-quality crops. This can have far-reaching consequences from barley farmers to maltsters and brewers.
Malt is the “heart and soul” of a beer. The production of high-quality malt is a critical part of the brewing process. Drought can significantly impact the quality and quantity of barley. Drought-stressed barley can produce lower-quality malt, impacting beer production and quality. Drought also can result in financial losses for farmers, maltsters, and the brewing supply chain. Reduced malting barley yields can result in brewing raw material shortages and higher prices for malt, putting additional pressure on brewers. According to the barley production report released by AMBA (American Malting Barley Association) on Sep 30, 2021, barley production was estimated at 118 million bushels for 2021 crop, down 31% from the revised 2020 total of 171 million bushels due to severe drought-related climate change.