A brewing controversy: A WAFF 48 News special report

By Mark Thornhill - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - You've heard the song "A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall." If a certain climate scientist is correct, there might soon be fewer bottles to take down and pass around.

This scientist claims your next cold one is giving way to warming and it might have you shedding a tear in your beer.

According to a study done at Texas Tech, Noah actually stored beer on the Ark. In 4300 B.C., Babylonian clay tablets showed recipes for beer. In 1600 B.C., if an Egyptian man offered a lady a sip of his beer, they were married.

In fact, some studies show that beer has been around between 10,000 and 15,000 years.

Jim Salinger is a climate scientist in New Zealand. He claims that global warming is causing a serious drop in the yield of malting barley and hops, two of the basic ingredients of beer. Yeast and water being the other two.

Salinger claims the hot, dry conditions are going to have a profound impact on the world's beer supply,

Some dispute that claim.

"Too many people in this world love beer. I don't think that people that love something will let it go by the wayside," said beer drinker Robert Sallee.

Milton Lamb with Olde Towne Brewing Company agrees that it's not going away.

He said Salinger's dire predictions about beer being scarce because of global warming aren't necessarily "half baked" or "half brewed", in this case.

"The climate has been changing for 30 to 40 years now. All you have to do is look at pictures of glaciers to see that," said Lamb.

However, Lamb said, there's no longer a shortage of hops. As for barley, he said it's been the major grain for beer since the 1400's.

He said it needs long, cool growing seasons. It's now grown primarily in the Northwestern United States, Northwestern Canada, Germany, England and Belgium.

"I would say if the weather affects barley in a certain area you would move to another area," said Lamb.

Lamb also said barley is the preferred grain, but you can "tap" into other ingredients.

"You can use corn. You can use rice. You can use wheat. You can use a lot of grains to make a beer," he explained.

Lamb said he hasn't seen any shortage of barley for his business yet and doesn't expect to anytime soon.

"I think if barley is going to disappear, it'll be ten to 100 years," he said. "I think people will find a way to drink a beer."

In 2009, beer sales in the United State alone accounted for $101 billion, with over 205 million barrels of beer sold.

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