As a result of climate change, beer will become increasingly expensive and could be in short supply by the end of the century. Global changes in temperature can alter the biochemistry of crops, such as barley and hops, affecting the taste of beer. Barley, which gives beer its flavor and color, requires 15 to 17 inches of water to complete its growth cycle, while some hops varieties require four times that. Not only will climate change affect the taste of beer, it will drastically increase its price, due to decreases in supply of ingredients. A report published by nature.com estimates that catastrophic climate events could cause beer prices in the United States to increase by 656%! Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. While beer packaging and distribution results in significant outputs of CO2, updating practices and supporting local breweries committed to carbon neutrality can help reverse the effects of climate change.
What It Takes to Produce, Package, and Ship Beer
Brewing beer requires water usage throughout every step of the process. While the average beer is 90-95% water, the majority of water used in beer production goes toward farming. According to SABMiller’s sustainability study with WWF, it takes between 50 and 155 liters of water to produce a liter of beer.
Packaging beer contributes to more than a third of its carbon footprint. According to New Belgium, “The carbon footprint of a 6-pack of Fat Tire® Amber Ale (FT) is 3,188.8 grams of CO2 equivalents (g CO2e).” From bottles to labels to plastic wrap and pallets, packaging materials produce around 850g of CO2e.
The carbon footprint of shipping beer depends on how far it travels. The Guardian estimates that a locally bottled beer has a carbon footprint of 500g CO2e while an “extensively traveled” beer has nearly double that at 900g CO2e.
Consumers and Ethics
Efforts to combat climate change can not only reduce waste and increase yield, they can also attract new customers. According to Forbes, 88% of consumers want brands to help them improve their environmental footprint. Not only can sustainability efforts result in customers, those customers are also more likely to champion your business to their sphere of influence. According to the University of Redlands, “Over half of U.S. consumers said they no longer buy from companies they perceive as unethical. On the flip side, three in 10 consumers will express support for ethical companies on social media. Business ethics cultivates trust, which strengthens branding and sales.”
What Your Venue Can Do
Rather than contributing to the carbon footprint of bottled beer, consider stocking your venue with kegs and dispensing beer on tap. Kegs can be reused, combating climate change and reducing energy and water usage. Kegs are also less fragile than glass bottles and take up less space in transit and storage.
Dispensing kegged beer on tap through Sestra’s TapWise technology helps your venue optimize yield by reducing waste and preventing overpouring. After updating a Washington DC hotel’s beverage service to draught beer, the venue saw a 22%-27% improvement in yield and monetization of close to 100% of keg inventory. Wondering what improvements your venue could see? Check out our Power of the Pour Beverage Calculator.
While water usage, carbon outputs, and environmental projections are sobering, your venue can take steps and update practices that combat climate change. Using kegs and making other efforts to reduce waste can not only help reverse climate change (and ensure future beer drinkers don’t have to pay $50 per beer), it can also improve your bottom line and attract new customers. We’re all in this together and partnering with other companies committed to change can make for a smooth transition. Wondering how a partnership with Sestra can help your venue? Contact us today.