Torched Earth Ale is brewed from drought-resistant grains, weeds & smoke-tainted water to show what beer might taste like if we fail to address climate change.
New Belgium Brewing Co. is making strong statements about climate change that other businesses may find hard to swallow—perhaps just as hard to swallow as their new, limited-edition beer, Torched Earth Ale. New Belgium brewed Torched Earth Ale from drought-resistant grains, dandelion weeds, and smoke-tainted water to demonstrate what beer might taste like if we fail to adequately address climate change.
Most of the main ingredients required to brew beer are sensitive to environmental change. For instance, barley and hops, both crucial to beer production, are crops that are susceptible to failure induced by abnormal weather patterns like rising temperatures and drought stress. Barley is also needed as cattle feed, which will surely be prioritized over luxury items such as beer if crops become scant.
To remind us of the California wildfires of the previous years, smoked malt was added to the water used to make Torched Earth. The artist who designed Torched Earth’s label, Kelly Malka, is awfully familiar with “the devastating direct impacts of climate change, including worsening wildfires and air pollution,” because she experienced California’s wildfires firsthand.
New Belgium’s CEO, Steve Fechheimer, hopes that whoever is unfortunate enough to have a sip of Torched Earth Ale is disgusted by its taste; so much so that it will motivate them to become better stewards of the environment before they find themselves in a future where all beer tastes like Torched Earth.
New Belgium was the first brewery in the United States to launch a certified carbon-neutral beer called Fat Tire. It is also the first wind-and-solar-powered brewery, generating its own electricity on-site, and works with groups such as Protect Our Winters to advocate for climate change action outside of beer production. Fechheimer hopes that other companies, especially the ones with the biggest impact, see what his medium-sized company is capable of in terms of advocating for the environment, and are inspired to act as well.
New Belgium is also running a parallel initiative called Drink Sustainably, imploring the 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies that have not yet implemented sincere plans to address climate change by 2030 to change their tune, quickly.
Fechheimer realizes that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many companies putting the climate centered plans they had talked about in 2019 and 2020 on the back burner, however, he also states that “while the economic crisis driven by the current pandemic has devastated families and businesses, it pales in comparison to the economic pain that will be wrought by an unmitigated failure to address climate change. In the year 2021, if you don’t have a climate plan, you don’t have a business plan.”