Let’s Go to the Hops

July 5, 2014

120-year-old game show host Alex Trebek adjusts his signature grey toupee, the music theme from “Jeopardy” blaring in his hearing aids. He turns to the contestants. “Here is our first clue: ‘Last Call.’” The contestants and the audience begin to weep. Contestant 1 rings in and says tearfully, “What was beer, Alex.”

Imagine baseball without beer. Then only heroin users would able to tolerate the somnolent national pastime. Imagine child rearing without beer. Patricide and matricide would be hobbies. Imagine Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Mondays . . . without beer. There’d be nothing to do except remember dead soldiers, visit Revolutionary War sites, work and kill yourself. The ghost of John Lennon: “Imagine no cold brewskies/You can do it if you’re dry.”

That’s right, Bunky, global warming means no beer.

You can sit in your overstuffed La-Z-Boy recliner and imagine lower Manhattan under water. Who cares? Half of Florida gone? Good riddance! Downtown Chicago a beach? Party!

No Beer? Aughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Beer is hops (flowers), malt (grain), barley (the sensitive Mr. Rogers of grain) and water, whether you’re a craft beer lover or a ‘This Bud’s for you’ quaffer. Malt is holding its own. Water is a global issue. If push came to shove, the last drops of water on earth would find their way into a brewery. Bad water quality might mean beer that would make that horse-piss-tasting Colorado brew seem drinkable. (Don’t ask how I know what horse piss tastes like.)

Hops, however, those sacred, green, bud-shaped appendages that cannot tolerate heat, that only grow in northern climes, are endangered. Barley is the Gene of grains, sensitive and delicate; it withers in the heat. No hops, no barley, no beer.

Last Wednesday, the Urban Chestnut Brewery, in St. Louis, sponsored a symposium on global warming. (Are you sitting up yet? Is your mouth agape?) Beer drinkers, business people, scientists and brewers gathered and talked seriously about suds. There already is a shortage of high end hops. (Are you sitting up yet? Is your mouth agape?) Barley is withering in the field, lower yields and less pest resistant strains. (Are you sitting up yet? Is your mouth agape?) Beer, as we know it, may go the way of the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon and liberals. (Are you sitting up yet? Is your mouth agape?)

Prices are going up. Relatively soon, only Warren Buffet will be able to afford a six pack. Actually Warren Buffet and Jimmy Buffet will be dead, but Warren and Jimmy Buffet’s kids will roam the earth in armed bands and kill for beer stashes from the late 20th Century. Holy IPA, Batman!

If this doesn’t spur Joe Six Pack to reduce his carbon emissions, nothing will. You could ignore the 99 percent of scientists who sounded the clarion call. Screw the glaciers and the polar bears! But! Can you ignore the baby hops calling, “Help me”? How will you feel when barley pulls a Margaret Hamilton and cries, “I’m melting”? Can you do without beer? When hops prices are higher than for gold, can you afford to invest in some futures?

Contestants roam post apocalyptic Germany, searching for secret hop fields and artificial hop labs in “The Last Hops,” the last reality show. ABC. 10 pm. Rated PG-13.

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