It's Corny that Beer Prices Ale Me

Monday, November 12, 2007

My father in law, who lives in Myrtle Beach, sent me this alarming article about beer consistency, quality and prices.

Looks like bad weather has damaged the hops output in America and Germany. I blame global warming. If ever there was one issue that would finally get me off the stick to do something about globa, warming, it's that is threatens my ability to use what hops I want to use, and will increase the price of my favorite beers, and homebrewing. Damn you, global warming. From the article:

Australia endured its worst drought on record. Hail storms across Europe damaged crops. Extreme heat in the western United States hurt both yields and quality.
And then, to make matters worse, I find out that the fucking solution to global warming is increaing the prices of wheat and barley because farmers are switching to growing corn to meet ethanol demands!
Barley and wheat prices have skyrocketed as more farmers plant corn to meet increasing demand for ethanol, while others plant feed crops to replace acres lost to corn.
How, now, am I supposed to b environmentally-conscious when the much-celebrated ethanol-burning vehicles of the future are actually responsible for driving-up the price of my favorite beers?

The answer, fellow beer lovers, is Cellulosic Ethanol:
While chemically identical to ethanol produced from corn or soybeans, cellulose ethanol exhibits a net energy content three times higher than corn ethanol and emits a low net level of greenhouse gases.
Get off of corn ethanol, folks. It's going to drive up food - and beer - prices. Get on the cellulosic bandwagon.

This is a classic example of being careful of what you wish for. Global warming, all jokes aside, is a huge issue; climate change in general is going to be a key factor in how and where we farm. But sometimes the easiest solution, which in this case is making fuel of something using a process we and our ancestors have used for millenium - distilling, is economically the wrong solution. We're in a huge hurry to invest in corn ethanol when we should be investing in ethanol period, derived from plant matter. It's more flexible and adds value to all crops across the board.

And it won't increase the price of my beer!

13 comments:

Bob "Chief Beer Brewing Extravaganza Advocate" 7:58 PM  

Corn ethanol has always been a stop-gap until cheaper, better ways on making ethanol, including cellulosic, were developed. The good thing is, the infrastructure and cars will be there when it’s ready. The fact that the cars are here makes it more likely people will put substantial R&D into cellulosic.

Sopor 8:18 PM  

The thing is... our infrastructure and cars have been for something else:

BioDiesel

My Volkswagen Jetta with a 2.0L standard gasoline gets 30mpg. The same car with a 1.8L Turbo-Diesel gets 50mpg. That's a 66% increase in efficiency, AND that engine has more power than mine!

Now, make that Diesel out of something that grows fast... Hemp. (Here comes the pinko part..) Growing a crop like Hemp to produce diesel can provide many crops in a year, and produces a cleaner burning Diesel than oil (duh.) Lastly, using a crop such as Hemp allows for 99%emission trapping. In other words, Growing X amount of hemp uses 99% of the emissions that the fuel produced by that amount of hemp produces while burning.

The thing is... Even regulating Turbo-Chargers on vehicles could save us 10-15% on fuel efficiency with no change in fuel or anything. A beautiful and simple 10-15%.

Sopor 8:19 PM  

Here's the other thing...

"The trend is going to be toward $10 six packs."

I already pay $10 for a six pack!!

Sopor 8:40 PM  

"The thing is... our infrastructure and cars have *READY* been for something else:"

That's what I meant to say...

Smitty 10:27 AM  

I already pay $10 for a six pack!!

So nothing changes for us. It's just now people will be paying $10 for the shitty yellow fizz water...so they might as well switch to good beer.

B Mac 11:43 AM  

But if that alcohol-laced carbonated water ends up at 10 bucks, what will a six-pack of good stuff cost?

And I agree with Bob that corn is only a bridge to future fuel options. Cellulose-based fuels are better, and I'm holding out hope for hydrogen power. Failing that, I seem to remember a human-powered car owned by a Mr. Fred Flintstone. It seemed to have pretty sound acceleration, though I feel like modern car design could improve on the braking mechanism.

Rickey Henderson 11:44 AM  

Rickey had always suspected that this whole ethanol is just a government handout for big agri-farmers... But now you tell Rickey that it's harming beer production? Fuck. Where's the beer lobby?

Besides, if the govt was serious about cutting down on emmisions they'd start looking at hydrogen fueled vehicles.

Smitty 1:42 PM  

Rickey had always suspected that this whole ethanol is just a government handout for big agri-farmers

Canigeta AMEN? Corporate welfare for farms.

I hear you, Bob and b_mac, that ethanol is a stopgap. But i just don't see it. Too much attention is being paid to corn ethanol, and too much money is being invested in it, for it to not be the "only" replacement.

The conspiracy part of me says that global warming deniers, including most of those affiliated with the Bush Administration, are dumping money into corn ethanol because they know it will fail. They know that it costs more to produce than what it saves in burning it. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Then, when it fails, we can have our little resource wars.

One of the big lobbying firms in town...their principle is the prime investor behind what will be the biggest corn ethanol plant in the State.

That's a whole lotta money and time into a "stopgap."

B Mac 2:41 PM  

The cynical polito in me feels like the reasons they are spending this much time on corn-based ethanol in America are electoral in nature.

More farmers grow corn than currently grow stalk-grasses or sugar cane. So the government provides subsidies for ethanol plants, ethanol and ethanol research and product development. This makes farmers happy. And as the need for corn (or at least the use of corn) increases, the price of corn increases. This makes farmers even happier. And happy people vote for incumbents, while pissed-off people vote for the new guy.

Also, they grow a lot of corn in Iowa. If the first caucuses in the presidential race were held in Michigan, there would be a lot more support for timber-based fuels. And if they were held in Massachusetts, our cars would probably run on... um... fresh cod, gay weddings, and Ted Kennedy's urine?

Smitty 2:59 PM  

b_mac, I think you hit the real nature of the corn ethanol issue right smack on the head. I think you're right, 100%.

On top of that, this part of your answer wins you the Coveted Best Answer Ever On This Blog:

And if they were held in Massachusetts, our cars would probably run on... um... fresh cod, gay weddings, and Ted Kennedy's urine?

B Mac 4:48 PM  

That's another phrase that should really be the #1 return on a Google search. Although there are some reeeeeally weird fetish sites out there, so I won't count my chickens just yet...

Smitty 9:49 PM  

I tried. AtK is not even in the top 10 with the phrase "fresh cod, gay weddings, and Ted Kennedy's urine."

I might be okay with that.

Smitty 10:39 PM  

DUDE!

I just added it to the new post above this one...and it worked! We're number 1 again!!!

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