Across Europe the 2018 heatwave shows no signs fo stoping, which is great news for sun-seekers, less great for barley farmers and the drinks which rely on them.
According to a Reuters report, poor rainfall across Northern Europe is causing drought, and damaging barley harvests. Tightening supplies of malt barley for beer brewing, and production of neutral grain spirit for vodka, gin, and whisky.
The Reuters report suggests a Europe-wide shortfall of 500,000 tonne of available barley for brewers and distillers, which will drive up prices and tighten alcohol production. In the UK there is an expected 10% – 15% fall in spring barley.
A related problem, will be the germination ability of the grains. This is expected to be lower than the 92% required by maltsters, meaning the grains have less starch and sugar — the energy which powers fermentation.
The full effects of the heatwave are yet to be seen, and the thought of paying more for your favourite tipple is never pleasant. A ray of sunshine is provided by French crops, which seem to be holding up well with production estimated to be the same as 2017 levels.