For Earth Day, New Belgium Brewing's Fat Tire has released Torched Earth Ale, a beer that is shitty on many different levels.
First for the fact that it is made with smoke-tainted water, dandelions, drought resistant grains like millet and a hop extract (not fresh hops) — New Belgium describes it as tasting "awful." Second for the fact that Torched Earth Ale uses the less-than-ideal ingredients that brewers in a climate-ravaged future might have available to them.
In 2020, New Belgium's flagship beer Fat Tire became the country's first certified carbon neutral beer through tactics like increasing renewable energy installations, increasing energy efficiencies and purchasing carbon offsets. The last strategy New Belgium admits is not a sustainable practice. This is why the 30-year-old brewery has launched the "Last Call for Climate" with Torched Earth Ale, asking beer drinkers to demand their favorite brands to adopt 2030 climate plans. According to the press release, "70 percent of Fortune 500 companies lack a meaningful climate action plan (one that will help companies achieve or be well on the way to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030, the year scientists say that catastrophic climate change could be irreversible without bold action)."
"If you don’t have a climate plan, you don’t have a business plan," said New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer. "Aggressive action to help solve the climate crisis is not only an urgent environmental and social imperative – it’s also a no-brainer for companies seeking to create long-term shareholder value, compete with rivals like China, and create good-paying jobs here at home."
This is not the first time New Belgium has created a beer centered around bringing awareness to the current (and even greater looming) disaster that is climate change. Last August for International Beer Day and to celebrate Fat Tire becoming the first American carbon neutral beer, the brewery changed the price on Fat Tire six-packs to $100 for 24 hours. This of course was to raise attention to the fact that the ingredients to make beer will continue to become more and more expensive.
As climate change continues to put greater strain on water systems and crops through extreme weather events, droughts and the altering of temperatures, brewers may have to face realities like using less-than-stellar ingredients or paying exorbitant prices for the normal ingredients. These higher prices and potentially crappier beer would then be passed onto drinkers.
I can attest to the 5.2 percent ABV Torched Earth Ale not tasting all that good. I love smoked beers, but this beer has got nothing behind that smoked malt. It seems to have the consistency of apple juice, but with better head retention — there's just very little in the way of mouthfeel or body. Simply put, if this is the future of beers we're looking at, I can guarantee if you like your hazy IPAs or imperial stouts, you're surely going to be disappointed.