Why Fat Tire beer costs $100 per six-pack on International Beer Day
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Beer drinkers in Colorado and Minnesota may experience the biggest sticker shock of their life Friday, which also happens to be International Beer Day. In some stores, a six-pack of Fat Tire beer will ring up for a stunning $100, instead of the usual 12 bucks or so.
Thirsty shoppers don’t need to panic, at least not quite yet. The change is a temporary effort by Fat Tire’s creator, New Belgium Brewing, to highlight the impacts of climate change. The $100 price tag, the brewer says, is what a six-pack of beer could cost in 50 years if more decisive action isn’t taken against carbon emissions.
According to CEO Steve Fechheimer, New Belgium is already grappling with those impacts on a daily basis, and it’s far from alone.
“Frankly, our entire agricultural supply chain is already being pretty impacted by climate change,” Fechheimer tells Fortune. “In any given year, that’s drought or floods that wipe out part of our barley or hops crop, or … a freeze in Florida that means we can’t get access to the citrus fruits we had contracted for the year. They’re happening way more frequently and way more severely than in the past.”
New Belgium’s repricing stunt is also meant to draw attention to the recent certification of Fat Tire as a carbon-neutral product. The company says it’s the first nationally available beer to earn that distinction. The carbon-neutral certification is issued by SCS Global Services, which also oversees gluten-free and non-GMO certifications. Fechheimer says it’s an arduous process that involves measuring carbon outputs at every point of a product’s supply chain, buying credits to offset what can’t be eliminated quickly, and outlining a plan to get rid of the rest.
New Belgium’s efforts to combat climate change and earn that carbon-neutral certification have included powering its brewing plants with solar and other renewables, and working with suppliers—particularly bottle manufacturers—to reduce their impact.
When customers take a sixer of Fat Tire to the checkout at certain partner stores (New Belgium wouldn’t say how many), the beer will ring up at the climate change–inflated price. The customer will then get some marketing materials explaining the motive for the stunt, but, a spokesperson says, will ultimately be able to get his or her suds for the usual price.
“The point is to really highlight what all of us are feeling as brewers, and make it clear to consumers how severe this is,” Fechheimer says. “And maybe get them to think about the issue in a slightly different way.”
The U.S. has experienced a craft beer renaissance in recent decades, which New Belgium helped create since its founding in 1991. But Fechheimer warns that the smaller brewers his company paved the way for could be the most impacted by the costs of climate change.
“The small and medium-size [breweries] are the ones that get squeezed,” he says; bigger operations get better access to the shrunken output of disrupted harvests.
If Fechheimer wants to get consumers’ attention, that’s a scenario likely to do the trick. The post–climate change world won’t just mean grappling with constant natural disasters and mass forced migration: You might also be limited to drinking Coors.
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- “Lights Out”: A new book investigates how and when things fell apart at General Electric
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- Governments are facing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transition to clean energy