Climate Change Is Destroying One of the World’s Best Beers, Cantillon

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX CLIMATE CHANGE AND CANTILLON BEER

© Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

If this doesn’t leave beer lovers wanting to do something about climate change, nothing will: Cantillon, one of the world’s most unique and respected beers, may be in serious danger due to climate issues.

Speaking to the AFP yesterday, Jean Van Roy, the brewer behind Cantillon’s distinct Lambic beers, said that changes in temperature have dramatically shortened the time in which he can brew. “We had to pour away three brews for today, Thursday and next Monday because the nighttime temperatures are currently at between 10 and 15 C (50 -59 F), which is far too warm,” he said.

What makes Cantillon beers distinct from others around the world is their brewing process. The brewery uses open fermentation, utilizing natural airborne yeast and other natural conditions to produce its products. The vast majority of brewers use closed fermentation, pitching yeast into unfermented liquid (wort) and controlling all the variables. Cantillon beers, along with those of a handful of breweries around the world, are so distinct because open fermentation makes them products of their environments. It’s impossible to replicate them identically anywhere else.

Now, that environment is under attack. “Ideally [the fermentation mixture] must cool at between minus 3C and 8C (approximately 17-26 degrees Fahrenheit). But climate change has been notable in the last 20 years,” said Van Roy. “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.”

The brewer laments that these brewing periods continue to shorten and, one day, could even drive the legendary brewery that has been around since 1900 out of business. “I adapt because I don’t have any option, but obviously it’s a shame,” he told the AFP. “We only have five months to brew and our production is very limited. If we lose a week we can survive but three weeks or more would be more complicated.”

Forget Al Gore. Let’s make Jean Van Roy the new face of climate change. Maybe people will be more willing to get behind an awesome beer than a mildly-self-serving documentary.

[h/t Quartz]

Related: A Top Brewmaster Tells Us What's Up with Spontaneously Fermented Beer 
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