Brewing beer in the age of climate change
May 22, 2014
EVAN FRITZ, the head brewer at Manayunk Brewing Co., was smiling but looking kind of shell-shocked one afternoon this week. Around him lay twisted pipe, a disassembled boiler, stacks of muddy beer cans, a pile of electronic point-of-sale equipment (above).
"I keep joking that this storm didn't even have a name," he said. "What are we going to put on the plaque?"
That would be the marker to show how high the waters from the May 1 flood rose. Irene in 2011 and Floyd in 1999 - the high-water marks from those devastating hurricanes are remembered with small signs behind the bar.
This one, the storm with no name, came with no real warning. It dumped 5 inches of rain in one afternoon.
Co-owner Mike Rose said he was certain the seawall he'd built after Irene - the one that stands a good 13 feet above the Schuylkill canal - would hold. They closed the sturdy floodgates but didn't pull up the carpet or move the cash registers to the second floor.
He said the water crested at just over 16 feet, higher than either Irene or Superstorm Sandy.
The brewpub, whose mainstay is a raspberry ale called Schuylkill Punch, got pounded with an uppercut.
"I never saw anything like it," Rose said.
The mud, the cleanup, the broken equipment, the lost wages for more than 120 workers while the restaurant hustles to reopen - this is what brewing beer looks like in the age of climate change.
As President Obama said earlier this month, we're not talking about "some distant problem of the future. . . . Whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires - all these things are having an impact on Americans as we speak."