Climate change hitting home for small US breweries - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Climate change hitting home for small US breweries

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LOS ANGELES - There's trouble brewing for beer makers around the country.

Climate change and intense droughts are making it difficult for breweries to get the crucial ingredients they need to make their customer's favorite beer.

At one of LA’s fastest growing breweries keeping up with demand is a struggle, “it's incredibly, incredibly stressful.”

Frogtown Brewery co-owner Mike Voss says much of that stress comes from having to hunt for critical ingredients like hops – the ingredient that gives beer its flavor and aroma.

Most of the country's hops are grown in Washington, Oregon and Idaho -- states that have suffered increasingly severe droughts in recent years.

That's crippled crops -- leading to shortages and with the mega beer producers gobbling up most of the supply, smaller craft breweries are left scrambling.

"Every month we try to figure out where we can get what we need to make a particular beer,” Voss said. And if they can’t get the hops, Voss says, “you don't. You don't make the beer."

Producers are now trying to grow hops in other states but it's a slow process.

"Changes in temperature, changes in how plants grow,” said NASA climate scientist Dr. Joshua Fisher who added climate change is making droughts more intense.

"We are reaching this kind of tipping point where what we've been used to in terms of how much rain we're gonna get and how plants grow is no longer the norm,” Dr. Fisher said.

Shortages have led to higher prices for hops and some breweries say they may ultimately have to pass on the cost to consumers. At Frogtown, they're using new methods to find ingredients.

"Going out to different distributors, calling up other breweries, asking if they have the stuff we need, the ingredients that we need, begging sometimes,” co-owner Adam Kestel said.

Dozens of US breweries have now signed a "Brewery Climate Declaration," agreeing to help fight climate change in a number of ways, like using renewable energies in their beer production.

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