Thirsty weather ahead as price of a pint could rise by €5

Beer - climate change could affect the price of a pint
Beer - climate change could affect the price of a pint
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Could the price of a pint of beer really rise by as much as €5? Scientists are warning that the impact of climate change could take a long-term toll on the quality of barley.

Alltech research project manager Dr Mark Gaffney said that the knock-on effect of climate change on barley means it is costing more to process the grain into product suitable for beer consumption.

"A study in China conducted at the start of the year showed that climate change is going to make your beer more expensive (over the coming decades). It said that you could see an increase as high as €5 extra on what you're paying, so we're always battling against that climate issue," he told the Guild of Agricultural Journalists discussion at an Alltech conference in Dublin.

"Yield in Ireland fluctuates slightly year to year. It's always going to be an issue. Crops didn't get a chance last year."

Alltech researchers in Dunboyne found that it took 1.5°C more to get to the gelatinisation stage where the starch breaks down, which is needed for beer.

"With increased growing temperatures, you get increased lipid deposition within the grain and reduced starch - and the characteristics of that starch change as well. There's a lot of energy going into it on the back of a bad year," said Dr Gaffney.

He said ­pesticide usage is also something that the industry needs to be aware of as studies have detected residue levels in beer. Dr Gaffney said these were within legal limits.

"We're using more pesticides than we have ever used before. The more pesticides in the crop mean more in beer. You don't think pesticides will prolong through harvest to the glass, but they do," he added.

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The conference heard that there is a craft beer boom in Ireland, with currently 75 breweries - a growth of 400pc on 2012.

Colm Fingleton of the Irish Grain Growers Group pointed out that Irish farmers aren't feeling the benefit of the craft brewery revolution as many traditional malting barley growers are leaving the industry as the price received is too low.

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