While far from the most catastrophic consequence of climate change, a warming planet could mean higher beer prices. Last month, an international team of researchers announced that global warming and more frequent droughts could result in a 17% annual decline in the production of barley — a key ingredient in beer.
The upshot? The price of beer could double in the coming years. Though such a price surge would be unprecedented for any American alive today, beer prices have fluctuated considerably over the last 60 years.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the average price of a six-pack of beer was less than $2.00. While this may sound like a bargain, adjusting for inflation shows that beer actually costs less now than it did in the mid-20th century.
Beer consumption in the United States tends to fluctuate with beer prices. Annual per capita beer consumption among Americans 15 and older stood at about 256 12 oz. beers in 2017. Per-capita consumption peaked during the 1980s, when beer prices were at their lowest, with Americans then consuming 300 beers on average.
Like everything else, the size of your bar tab is subject to the laws of supply and demand. When it comes to beer, this can mean anything from the impact of climate change on the global supply of barley to the changing preferences of drinking-age Americans.