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The Climate Crisis is Coming for the Barley Crop

Growers, breeders, maltsters, and brewers will need to adapt faster than they have in the past if they’re going to keep up with accelerating change.

Ben Keene Aug 30, 2021 - 16 min read

The Climate Crisis is Coming for the Barley Crop Primary Image

Smoke from the Green Ridge Fire, just outside Washington’s Walla Walla Valley, rises in the background as farmers harvest barley. Photo: Courtesy Mainstem Malt.

You might have mistaken the beer for a gimmick, but the 5.2 percent amber ale brewed with dandelions, hop extract, smoked malt, millet, and buckwheat wasn’t meant to get beer geeks excited. It was meant to get them thinking. Released on Earth Day in 2021 and available only online or at the company’s two breweries, Torched Earth Ale from New Belgium brought attention to the current climate crisis in a creative, relatable way for consumers.

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Author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and former editor of BeerAdvocate, Ben Keene has judged beer competitions across the US and has spoken at industry conferences and conventions. He lives in Seattle.