Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beer Goggles' Prices to Rise?

Let's not push things too far, now:

AYING, GERMANY: Like most Germans, brewer Helmut Erdmann is all for the fight against global warming. Unless, that is, it drives up the price of his beer. And that is exactly what is happening to Erdmann and other German brewers as farmers abandon barley — the raw material for the national beverage—to plant other, subsidised crops for sale as environmentally-friendly biofuels.

“Beer prices are a very emotional issue in Germany. People expect it to be as inexpensive as other basic staples like eggs, bread and milk,” said Erdmann, director of the family-owned Ayinger brewery in Aying, an idyllic village nestled between Bavaria’s rolling hills and dark forests with the towering Alps on the far horizon. “With the current spike in barley prices, we won’t be able to avoid a price increase of our beer any longer,” Erdmann said, stopping to sample his freshly brewed, golden product right from the steel fermentation kettle.

In the last two years, the price of barley has doubled to e200 ($271) from e102 per tonne as farmers plant more crops such as rapeseed and corn that can be turned into ethanol or bio-diesel, a fuel made from vegetable oil. As a result, the price for the key ingredient in beer —barley malt, or barley has been allowed to germinate—has soared by more than 40% ....

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