Climate Change Is Ruining Belgium’s Historic Beer Industry

Warmer autumns are making it increasingly difficult for Belgian brewers to produce their traditional lambic beers
Climate Change Is Ruining Belgium’s Historic Beer Industry

Photo Modified: Flickr/Todd Nienkerk/CC 2.0


Lambic, a traditional Belgian wheat beer, requires cool fall seasons, which is getting shorter every year.

An atypically warm autumn is forcing Belgian beer brewers to pause production as they wait for cooler weather, as breweries traditionally allow their beers to cool in the open, beginning at the end of October.

“We had to pour away three brews for today, Thursday and next Monday because the nighttime temperatures are currently at between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius (50 to 59 degrees Farenheit), which is far too warm,” owner Jean Van Roy told Agence France-Presse. Typically, sour lambic beers must be left in the open to cool, “so that it is naturally infused with the wild yeasts present in the air,” Van Roy of Brussel’s Cantillon craft brewery told the AFP.

“Climate change has been notable in the last 20 years, Van Roy said. “My grandfather, 50 years ago, brewed from mid-October until May — but I’ve never done that in my life, and I am in my 15th season.”

Now that global warming has effectively reduced Van Roy’s brewing season to five months, the difference between a few weeks can make or break the bank. “If we lose a week we can survive, but three weeks or more would be more complicated.”

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