California drought affects beer production

A severe drought in California is affecting the amount of beer the state’s many craft breweries can produce, as demand continues to soar.

According to Los Angeles Timeas waterways such as the Russian River shrink after three years of a “punitive drought”.

Leon Sharyon, chief financial officer of Lagunitas Brewing – one of California’s leading craft brewers – told the newspaper that “we are at the threshold of maximum growth here in California because of the water.”

The brewery uses nearly two million gallons of water per year at its Petaluma site, with average breweries needing four to seven gallons of water per gallon of beer produced.

With more than 400 craft brewers in California and a market worth more than US$4 billion and growing, there are fears that if the drought continues, prices will have to rise.

Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association, said if the drought continues for two to three years, “it could have a huge impact on the production and growth of our breweries.”

Another brewer, Evan Weinberg, co-founder of Cismontane Brewing, confirmed there would be “serious problems” without an influx of water soon.

One way to counter this would be to buy more water-efficient equipment, but this is expensive, especially for small brewers.

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