Global hop shortage provides rare opportunity to local farms

home_ssp_alt  I am an admitted hop fiend, known to often hunt down freshly bottled/canned IPAs and DIPAs the day of their release. In my own home brew recipes I often exaggerate the hop content across all aspects of a recipe. So it is with great concern that I remark on the current global hop shortage. As the craft and homebrewing worlds have expanded exponentially, the demand has finally outpaced production.

As far back as 2012 I heard rumors of a pending hop shortage, soon to curtail the craft industry. As a newish home brewer with access to several dozen strains in my local diy store, I felt the news was exaggerated. A few breweries were forced to change or downsize hop schedules, but for the most part the industry was still charging forward. As of now my perception of this has changed dramatically. Large and small breweries alike are now being forced to curtail their hop use and recipe experimentation unless they have the ability to either grow their own or are lucky enough to operate near someone who does. This has once again pushed the leading edge of the industry to the CA/WA corridor as other parts of the US and beyond are slow to recognize the booming need. Surprisingly, a small perk has emerged. Increased access to international strains, from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, etc that have dramatically different and enjoyable flavors and aromas.

Only recently has this begun to affect my personal access to hops for homebrewing. Certain strains, numbering now in the dozens, that were previously plentiful and fresh have now become near impossible to find. It’s become paramount to gather and store whatever I may foreseeably use any time they are available rather than shop strictly per batch. At this point, I have more hops in my freezer than food. As it should be I say. This coupled with newly imported strains has made for very novel yet completely enjoyable batches of beer. I find it interesting how pungent and unique the international strains have proven to be. While American hops have followed a fairly focussed citrus, pine or earthy trend, NZ and AU hops tend to be far more diverse.

What will the future bring to the world of hops? Local farms and conglomerates alike will soon be devoting more and more acreage to its growth. Wild hops and local hybrids will gain in popularity as the US slowly catches up with diversifying strains. Brewers large and small will be forced to adapt to the changing hop market place and will need to do so quickly to maintain current production and preferences. I would never expect this to escalate to the point of an IBU shortage, far from it. In fact I think this will follow the path the malt industry has taken with local farms becoming once again a prominent part of the industry.

Local farms in Western MA providing fresh hops and grains:

Four Star Farms, Inc

Valley Malt

Farms outside of Western MA providing fresh hops and grains:

Harbor Hops


About mrhopsbeertalk
Avid homebrewer and craft beer taster. I love all the hops I can get. #hops #ipa #iipa #ipl #porter #dipa #specialtyale #saison #craftbeer western mass ·

One Response to Global hop shortage provides rare opportunity to local farms

  1. Pingback: Here’s the good news:

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