The Real Reason This Brewery Sold An Intentionally Bad-Tasting Beer

Climate change and beer are linked in more ways than you might think. For one, according to The Guardian, the effects of global warming directly impact beer-making, from barley shortages to water supply issues. For another, the process of sourcing beer ingredients and brewing beer, like the production of so many other goods, can contribute to environmental threats and shortages. The third connection is more positive, however: Beer has the power to reach a wide audience with its message. As an accessible, crowd-pleasing beverage, beer can raise awareness for issues like climate change. Happily, many breweries have been taking note of this and harnessing that very potential.

Plenty of breweries have been reevaluating how they brew and investing in systems that are far more eco-friendly, reports Forbes, like upcycling used water and recovering the carbon dioxide expended by the fermentation stage of brewing. New Belgium Brewing is an iconic trailblazer in American craft beer, based in Colorado, as well as North Carolina. The brewery has long been actively involved with environmental causes. A few of their initiatives include sustainable packaging, reducing their emissions, and energy efficiency (per the company's website). New Belgium actively lobbies for government action fighting climate change, has set up foundations to work on specific plans toward an environmentally friendly future, and is a leader in the beer industry, from policy to donating funds. Now, they've also done that aforementioned harnessing of beer's potential, turning their most beloved brew into a bold statement that will hopefully serve as a rallying cry, too.

What Torched Earth says about climate change

Fat Tire is New Belgium's flagship beer. Fat Tire is an amber ale that helped kick off the brewery — as well as America's craft beer scene — in 1991 (per New Belgium). It's still a favorite today among beer drinkers. Fat Tire also recently became America's first certified carbon-neutral beer, meaning brewing it releases no extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This past spring, New Belgium released a spin-off of Fat Tire called Torched Earth Ale. 

According to Food & Wine, Torched Earth is brewed with ingredients we may be forced to use if we allow the planet to continue on its current path. The Office for Coastal Management details some predictions for factors like how crops will suffer at the hands of global warming; New Belgium brewed this alarming future into a beer with smoked malts to mimic wildfires' impact on water, drought-resistant grains like millet and buckwheat instead of barley, and dandelion and hop extracts instead of natural hops. The brewery says the result is a "dark starchy liquid with smoky aromatics...not likely to win any awards, but does highlight the stakes of climate change for beer lovers everywhere" (via Food & Wine).

Torched Earth Ale is intended to be so bad, it wakes people up to what the future will be like if we don't actively fight for this planet. New Belgium hopes to inspire drinkers to demand their favorite brands form and announce plans to address their own role in combating climate change by 2030, as the brewery has already done itself (per Brewbound).