Whether it’s a light, cold session ale with friends after a day on the trails, or a full bodied stout sipped thoughtfully at your local tap room, craft beer is on the rise and the industry is booming. However, the long term future of this refreshing beverage is uncertain.
Beer is made from four simple ingredients, barley, hops, yeast, and most importantly, water! For centuries, brewers have enjoyed predictable and easy access to all of these ingredients, but climate change and unregulated patterns of development are throwing a wrench in the kettle. Warming temperatures and unpredictable growing seasons are affecting barley and hops production in the United States. Growing demand for water is driving up the cost in some areas, and increasingly intense storms and natural disasters are disrupting supply chains. All of this will impact production, and likely make beer more expensive in the future.
So, there it is, the nexus of brewing beer and environmental conservation; brewers everywhere are acutely aware of how environmental change affects their industry. In response, many larger breweries are choosing to use innovative water recycling systems, switch to renewable energy sources, and source more ingredients locally to offset their environmental impact.
The NJ Highlands Coalition includes several craft breweries as members. After all, you can’t make great beer, without clean water! The Highlands in New Jersey enjoys some of the best and most affordable water in the country. The combination was so good, Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser, opened a bottling plant in Newark in 1951. Today New Jersey residents enjoy the fourth lowest cost for water in the nation – a significant fact in this most densely populated state. However, we can never take this critical resource for granted. Inappropriate development in the region threatens important water sources, and destroys natural lands which play both a vital role in mitigating climate change, and in purifying water as it is absorbed by aquifers, groundwater, and rivers.
But why host Brewfest? Because why not! At the New Jersey Highlands Coalition we work hard, but we know when to kick back, open something tasty, and have some fun! Since it is not possible to have our traditional Brewfest at Canal Park in Boonton this year, we’re offering this virtual alternative for beer aficionados, and those who just want to have a bit fun together. We hope you will join us on October 10th, 2020, 2PM – 8PM for all kinds of games, beer bingo, live demonstrations of brewing, cooking with beer and much, much more.
(Images from Climate Central, Sustainable Brewing, 2020)