HomeRoast Digest


Topic: OT: Hops - WAS Do I need another (better) grinder? (6 msgs / 151 lines)
1) From: Gary Foster
There's actually a lot of factors.  If you google "hops global shortage" 
you'll come up with tons of articles on it.  Basically in a nutshell a 
lot of issues collided all at once.  There's always been a fairly large 
backlog of hop extract available for bittering (only bittering, you have 
to use raw hops for flavoring and aroma) as well as raw hop bales in 
storage over the last several years which has driven prices down. 
Consequently farmers have ripped out hop fields so the acreage is down.
The surplus that has been in storage has been going away and now it's 
pretty much all gone and the basic isomerized extract that a lot of the 
surplus lower quality hops crop gets turned into is pretty much gone. 
That coupled with massive crop losses on the existing crops in both the 
US (hop storage facility fires wiped out a good chunk) and Europe (bad 
weather destroyed a large chunk of the crop) over the last year or two 
has resulted in a huge global crunch.  It takes about 2 years to get a 
hop field up to production so farmers are replanting now, but it will 
take a bit to get production back up.
In addition, brewers are paying farmers for the alpha acid percentage 
(the bittering compound in the hops) and not for raw weight of the hops. 
  Therefore the farmers are growing high alpha acid varieties like 
Chinook, Magnum, Centennial, etc. because they'll make lots more money 
per acreage.  These run 9-14% alpha acid, where the distinctive 
flavoring hops like Goldings, Fuggles, etc run down around 4 to 5%.  You 
can see how they make double to triple the price per acreage.  Those 
high alpha acid hops are great for bittering but are not so great for 
flavoring.  A lot of the really nice flavor and aroma hops are just not 
being grown or replanted anymore.
It's a bad time for the brewing industry right now.  Smaller craft 
brewers are going out of business because they just flat can't buy the 
hops.  Boston Beer company (makes sam adams) did a great thing... they 
had 20,000 lbs or so of extra hops that they didn't need so they put 
them up for sale to other micro and craft brewers *only* at $5 or so a 
pound (what they paid for them via contract) instead of the $15 or $20 a 
lb they could have easily gotten on the open market.  I don't normally 
drink Sam Adams but I went out and bought a sixer just to say "thank 
you" to the company for a real high class move like that.
Barley prices are through the roof because of weather wiping out barley 
crops and should come down next year (hopefully).  Hops will take quite 
a bit to recover though.  I used to pay $40 per 50 lb sack for imported 
floor malted Maris Otter British barley and about $25 for a sack of 
domestic great western 2-row malted barley.  Those prices have close to 
doubled.
I have won quite a few medals for my brewing, but I just can't brew the 
same recipes anymore (I formulate all my own recipes) because I can't 
afford to use the high quality ingredients that I normally use.  Once my 
stock is depleted I'm screwed until the prices restabilize and hops 
become available again.  I am glad I am in the habit of buying bulk, 
because I managed to pick up quite a bit of stuff just before the prices 
went through the roof on everything.  As for hops, I can't even get the 
hops I normally use at any price.  Once my bulk stock is gone, I'm screwed.
-- Gary F.
Brian Kamnetz wrote:
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2) From: mvivit
Maybe my idea of planting hops along the fences in my back yard isn't  
such a daft one after all!
Mary in Utah
Quoting Gary Foster :
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3) From: Brian Kamnetz
Gary,
Thanks for the detailed explanation of the hops etc shortages. Very
interesting. I especially enjoyed learning about the high alpha acid
varieties of hops. Sounds like the hops equivalent of robusta (high
caffeine, low flavor).
Brian
On Thu, Mar 20, 2008 at 1:33 PM, Gary Foster  wrote:
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4) From: Lynne
Hooray for Sam Adams, Boston's own!!
Lynne
(just outside of Boston)
Gary Foster  wrote:
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5) From: Aaron
If they did indeed do this, that was a real class act thing to do.  Most 
other companies would have watched the little guy squirm and then go 
under, while they counted their profits.
I don't really like sam adams per se, but they do make other beers 
besides the namesake if I remember, and I believe one or two of them 
wasn't that bad.   I make my own so well... im picky there too.....  ill 
grab a 6 myself and write to the company and say thank you from the 
little guys.
FWIW I have hops growing at my home here,  picked up a few rhizomes and 
they are doing well... hopefully later this year ill have some to brew 
with my own hops too.
Aaron
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6) From: Gary Foster
On Thu, Mar 20, 2008 at 6:40 PM, Aaron  wrote:
<Snip>
Oh I assure you, it's not an "If they did".  They most assuredly did.
Here's the announcement they made (they announced this on the
probrewers forums with a pointer to their website).  Here's their
website announcement:http://www.samueladams.com/promotions/HopSharing/Default.aspx-- Gary F.
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