Climate change, drought, beer, and me

Okay, climate-change deniers – you’ve gone too far. You've gone from just being annoying know-nothings to now posing a serious threat to an essential good that embodies humankind's finest collaboration with nature: Beer.

Okay, climate-change deniers – you’ve gone too far. You’ve gone from just being annoying know-nothings to now posing a serious threat to an essential good that embodies humankind’s finest collaboration with nature: Beer.

It’s one thing for the science denial cult to stand in the way of doing something about melting ice caps in the Arctic, but it’s another thing altogether for them to mess with beer. This makes it personal.

Enjoying Hightower? How about a weekly email that gives you the full scoop?

While the deniers keep doing their denial dance, California is drying up. The higher temperatures caused by climate change has produced an ongoing drought that has, among other bad things, caused a precipitous drop in the water level of Lake Mendocino, which could come close to being a dry lakebed this summer.

What has that got to do with beer? Glad you asked. Mendocino feeds the Russian River, which flows by the town of Petaluma, home of the Lagunitas Brewing Company, which makes very fine beers. A key ingredient in the Langunitas brew is the excellent water the company draws from the Russian River, which presently is in danger of becoming a trickle.

Can’t Lagunitas and other breweries along the river just switch to groundwater? No. The head beermaster at Lagunitas notes that heavy minerals in that water would cause it to fizz in the brewing process, plus there are concentrations of nitrates, iron, and manganese in the area’s groundwater, creating issues of odor, taste, and other unpleasantries that do not add up to good beer.

What the Lagunitas experience is teaching us once again is that the nature of nature is that all things are linked together, despite the fantasies of industry shills who insist that their contaminates have no dire consequences. Mess with the global climate and you mess with Lake Mendocino, which messes with the Russian River, which messes with the beer. And now you’re messing with me and millions of beer drinkers. Like I said: It’s personal.

“California’s Water Crisis is Becoming a Beer Crisis,” www.thinkprogress.org, February 24, 2014.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

Never miss a word from Hightower– sign up today:

Send this to a friend