European heatwave puts German brewers in beer bottle crisis

World Today

The European heatwave is causing a particular concern in Germany. Brewers are on the verge of running out of beer bottles, as people turn to ale to beat the heat. CGTN’s Natalie Carney has more.

There are two things synonymous with Bavaria: bikes and beer.

Germans prefer to drink their beer from a glass – be it a proper German Stein or from a bottle. But this elongated heat wave is threatening one of Germany’s most popular ways of beating the heat.

The Weihenstephan brewery was established in 1040, making it the world’s oldest brewery. But it’s struggling with a very modern day problem – enough empty bottles to fill with their beer.

“It’s hot and in Germany people are thirsty,” Matthias Ebner, the Weihenstephan International Brand Ambassador said. “People might not buy just one box a week but an entire crate of beer because they just need more and are more thirsty, so it takes a little longer to finish and bring back to the beverage market or retailer.”

In Germany, you pay a deposit of 8 to 15 cents for every beer bottle purchased, which is returned to you when you return the bottle.

That bottle is then returned to the brewers to be reused. But the current heat wave has demand for beer exceeding the pace at which bottles are being returned.

“I think a lot of empties are currently outsourced to the customer or in trade with the middleman,” Ebner suggested. “So we have to see and all have to work together to bring the bottles back into the market.”

One local brewery in the west of the country went to far as to plead for the bottles’ return on social media, writing “first the empties, then the holiday!”

But while the lack of beer bottles could be considered traumatic enough for some Germans, there are many other disturbing aspects to this heat wave.

In parts of Germany, the temperature has risen to 39 degrees; a record for this time of year, when temperatures typically hover comfortably in the high 20s or low 30s Celsius.

It took 200 firefighters four days to put out forest fires near the capital, Berlin, made worse by repeated explosions reportedly caused by undiscovered World War II ammunition buried in the ground.

An unrelenting dry spell has also caused sever drought in many areas of the country. German Framers are calling for a billion euros in government aid to help compensate for crops that have been severely affected.

According to estimates, grain has fallen by 18 percent, knocking almost €1.5 billion from industry revenues so far this year.

“The main consequences will be in agriculture,” explained Thomas Endrulat, head of the Potsdam Weather Service. “This drought has been there for a long time and it has a massive impact on the harvest. However it is not completely uniform. In some areas of Germany enough precipitation has fallen. It is regionally different.”

The higher temperatures are also making life for those who work outside miserable.

Michael Bergholz, a construction worker, said that “We all got a note saying that we need to take more breaks. You just have to try to start work as early as is at all possible, so that you are done (by midday).”

While there are certainly fun ways of finding some respite from this heat, scientists are warning that this record-breaking heat wave is likely to become the rule rather than the exception as climate change disrupts weather patterns globally.