Ecocentricity Blog: A Beer From The Future

By: John A. Lanier
May 12, 2021 9:30 AM ET

The folks at New Belgium are brewers that care about the issue of the current generation, and they are using their one particular skill to ask others to do more.


Several months ago, I wrote a blog called “OK Doomer” that took climate doomerism to task. I remain generally opposed to messages about climate catastrophe that are meant only to inspire fear. I think we are most likely to solve the climate crisis by being realistic about climate downsides while emphasizing a positive vision for the future. That said, I’m making an exception to my opposition for one particular doomer campaign, because…well…it’s brilliant. And it involves beer.

New Belgium Brewing has long walked the sustainability talk, and they’ve recently focused on climate change as an issue. They’ve made their iconic Fat Tire beer certified carbon neutral (a first for a beer in the U.S.) and they have a goal of being carbon neutral as a business by 2030. In many respects, they have an inclusive and positive climate vision for themselves, for which I salute them.

It seems they’ve grown frustrated with many of their fellow businesses, however. In launching the site, New Belgium calls out that “70% of Fortune 500 companies still don’t have meaningful plans to address climate change by 2030.” Just below that quote is a ticker that scrolls through the list of 500 companies, saying YES! Or NOPE! for each one, coupled with a Twitter button that invites you to congratulate those with climate plans and shame those without.

Given how important corporate action is for the climate, I applaud that New Belgium has made corporate climate action the main thrust of their new campaign. But what does any of it have to do with doomerism? Well, underpinning the whole campaign is a new beer that New Belgium has brewed, called Torched Earth Ale. From their site:

“To show what the future of beer could look like if climate change continues unchecked, we brewed up Torched Earth Ale. This beer uses the kind of ingredients that would be available in a climate-ravaged future including: smoke-tainted water, drought resistant grains, shelf-stable extracts and dandelion weeds. While it’s technically beer, it’s not great.”

Normally I wouldn’t be a fan of terrible beer, but I can get behind this statement. Yes, it’s gimmicky as heck and likely won’t be the impetus for a new wave of corporate climate commitments (though I hope it is). But that doesn’t matter to me. The folks at New Belgium are brewers that care about the issue of our generation, and they are using their one particular skill to ask others to do more. I support that, just as I support any artist who uses their art for climate or any athlete who uses their sport for climate. We all have our own skills, and with a little bit of creativity, we can put them to good use in solving the climate crisis.

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