Last month, Boots and Brews News covered what the impact of a low snowpack and the possibilities of drought have on summertime hiking. What about beer though? We’ve already talked about water conservation in beer making, but in terms of future innovations we can look forward to. Right now though, going into a third summer of drought, California beer needs a water solution.
In March, it was reported that Ballast Point Brewery of San Diego sent scouts to Richmond, Virginia, likely to scout out a location for a new production facility. Ballast Point Brewery would be setting up shop in the same town Stone decided to set up its East Coast facilities last fall. Lagunitas, another fast growing SoCal brewery, chose Chicago to set up a production facility.
Moving East has several positives for West Coast breweries. For one: access to a bigger market. Distribution would expand not only into a larger US market, but from the east coast, Europe becomes that much more easily accessible to breweries. Plus, the black cloud of drought and water restrictions isn’t going to hamper production size increase.
But, will we still be able to call them West Coast beers? The Pacific Northwest taste profile--citrus-piney-hops, unfiltered, all around big beers--is taking over the market. Sam Adams even jumped on the bandwagon with a “West Coast style IPA”! While Rebel IPA isn’t terrible, I wouldn’t go out on a limb and to say Sam Adams really captured the IPA most West Coast beer drinkers are accustomed to.
Is it something in the water, something in the air? Some kind of West Coast state of mind? Will discerning drinkers notice a difference in taste when Lagunitas isn’t brewed with water from the Russian River anymore?
Every beer style started out as a regional variety--you brewed with what was available. Everything from the strain of yeast, to the type of grain, to flavor additives. That’s why we make differentiations between Belgian Wheat Beers, California Common Ales, Scotch Red Ales. Will continued droughts change not only where California beer is brewed, but also how it tastes?