ATLANTA — Changes are brewing when it comes to your favorite beer all because of the weather.
Drought, floods, and fires impact the taste and sometimes pricing at local breweries across the country.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan visited Scofflaw Brewing in northwest Atlanta to see the science and skill that goes into making the perfect beer.
“It’s kind of a nice blend of science and art,” Scofflaw brew master Joe McIntyre said.
McIntyre began brewing at home as a hobby in between jobs. That turned into a career. He became the first employee at Scofflaw when it opened in 2015.
Eight years later, he’s in charge of what gets poured into every glass.
“It used to be all about how you can make the most bitter IPA. The IPA itself has really changed a lot in the last decade,” McIntyre said.
Some of those changes have to do with the climate where hops are grown.
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Maggie Elliot works with the Hop Growers of America in Washington State. She said the United States grows 40% of the world supply. That’s followed by Germany. Georgia is ranked 15 in the United States.
Elliot said weather swings in the Pacific Northwest have created a problem -- it’s forced growers to rely on technology.
“They’re looking at precision irrigation, making sure they can apply the right amount of water to conserve our water resources,” Elliot said.
Major issues for crops include wildfires, flooding, heat, and humidity.
Chuck Skypeck with the Brewers Association told Monahan both barley and hops do not do well in heat and humidity, especially at night.
Skypeck said wildfire smoke has also affected the taste of hops.
“Sometimes you don’t see that result of the smokiness until you actually produce the beer,” Skypeck said.
“The smoke reaches the hops and that changes the flavors we get out of them and it can completely ruin them,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre told Monahan that he sees all of this first-hand when he travels to the Pacific Northwest to hand-select hops.
“You go out there and are presented with different lots. You really have to go out there and put your nose to it. It can be an overwhelming experience, but it can be a lot of fun,” McIntyre said.
Temperature affects hops during the brewing process, as well. Hops are boiled to bring the flavor and bitterness out.
“Different temperatures express different things in the hops with the alpha acids and the bitterness,” McIntyre said.
Of course, hops are not the only ingredient in beer. Barley and grain are also being impacted by the weather, which impacts pricing.
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