Hops

IPA beer lovers, beware. Your favorite brews might get more expensive as the climate warms.

Eric Desmarais grows hops, a critical ingredient in beer, at a farm in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. It’s a dry region at the eastern base of the Cascade Mountains, where more than three quarters of the country’s hops are grown.

Desmarais says in this region, melting mountain snow supplies much of the water used for irrigation.

Desmarais: “We are, at this time, highly dependent on the snowpack.”

But as winters warm, snowpack decreases, and major water shortages can follow later in the year.

Desmarais says that to water his valuable hops during a severe drought in 2015, he leased water from nearby hay farmers. They, in turn, let their fields go dry for the year.

Desmarais: “It took several hundred thousand dollars to try and deal with the situation.”

Some hops growers are investing in highly efficient irrigation systems. And stakeholders across the region are working to improve water management and storage plans.

But all of these responses cost money. So if water and hops become more expensive, beer drinkers may have to pay a price for climate change.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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