December 11, 2018
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Dropoff in global barley supplies ‘a real worry’ for Maine beer makers

CBS 13 | BDN
CBS 13 | BDN
David Roland, head brewer at SoMe Brewery in Kittery, talks to CBS 13 about global barley shortages.

A new scientific study says that barley supplies across the world are going down due to climate change, and the study says that could significantly raise the prices of beer.

The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Plants, and breaks down how the changes to the barley supply could impact local breweries. One beer maker says that barley is easily affected by weather conditions.

“Basic things like drought, and heat, or cold, have adverse effects on how these plants grow,” David Roland, head brewer at SoMe Brewery in Kittery said.

The study indicates that barley supplies across the world are decreasing at an average of 3 to 18 percent. Roland says that the global effect will trickle back to the United States.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s barley from Germany, Norway, Canada, or China, the effect will come back to America, and it’s a real worry,” Roland said.

The study says that the biggest effects will be price and availability, saying that beer consumption will drop about 10 percent in America, which amounts to almost 2 billion liters of beer.

“If this continues to get worse, beers are going to be more of a luxury for people and less and less people are going to be able to afford it and enjoy it,” Roland said.

The study says the average pint in America will go up by two dollars over the next couple of years, something Roland says is painful to a local beer company.

[Thirst for craft beer continues across US, Maine]

“Two dollars to someone in an aisle, looking at two different beers, is make or break for someone who can afford to sell it cheaper, like some of the bigger guys,” Roland said.

He says something the study didn’t factor in is how it will impact macro-breweries versus micro-breweries. He says that if barley is a limited resource, the bigger companies will be able to pay the hiked up prices.

“Because they’re so big, they’ll get first dibs on all this stuff, and essentially choke out small neighborhood breweries,” Roland said.

He says that there isn’t much he can do to stop this from happening, but says making environmentally-friendly choices isn’t a bad idea.

[Trump tariffs drive up the cost of cans, squeezing Maine craft brewers]

“I think the writing is pretty much on the wall unless people in higher positions of power start to focus on this issue,” Roland said.

He says that global warming can be a politically dividing topic, but says he hopes the idea of “no beer” will bring people together.

“When it comes down to it we should all be able to have a beer, and I hope that doesn’t change due to climate change,” Roland said.

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