Major Changes Ahead For Beer?

I•N•S  – Washington, D.C.   In keeping with the Green New Deal in reducing our carbon footprint, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, FDA, and the EPA have been petitioned to enact regulations to phase out fermented and carbonated beverages in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.  This would include beer, seltzer, soft drinks, wine, whiskey, etc.

Critics cite that fermentation industries producing beer, wine, and distilled spirits, generate many tons of CO2 per year in the United States alone.  The proposed regulations don’t seem to target industries such as cheese and bread making which produce significantly lower emissions. Also, gases containing carbon are released into the atmosphere by livestock flatulence but that is being addressed through the USDA.  

To put this into perspective, the US beer brewing industry produces approximately 1,402,750 tons of CO2 every year.  US wine makers produce approximately 200,000 tons of CO2.  No figures were available for the fermentation associated with distilled spirits.  Other carbonated beverages such as soft drinks are less problematic as the CO2 used in their manufacture is taken directly from the atmosphere and not newly produced from carbohydrates through fermentation.

Elaborate CO2 capture systems for producers are being suggested but the cost of such equipment may put many small breweries and wineries out of business.

Overcoming tradition and producing these products without fizz, doesn’t seem viable. Several US producers and Universities are researching the use of other gases to replace CO2 in their products.  Among these are purified air, inert gases, and nitrogen. 

The use of purified air is suspect as most liquid products in a can or bottle will oxidize even during the brief storage while being transported to distribution centers and eventually, sitting on store shelves.

Most inert gases such as helium and argon, exhibit objectionable flavors, odors, or negative side effects.

Presently, nitrogen seems to be the major viable alternative but the mouthfeel and other qualities are not quite what most people find favorable and are likely to be rejected by consumers.

Research continues as the proposals are considered.

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