12 November 2007

Scary scarcity

    perfect storm (noun) : a critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors

As friends and family have reported, there is a shortage of beer ingredients.

This report has been re-posted around the web, and details the causes of the hop shortage. Here's the bottom line:

Certain varieties are getting a lot more expensive. A few varieties will run out faster than ever. Brewers have to be willing to try other varieties. Brewmasters, brewery owners, and marketing and sales managers must prepare for the potential need to substitute different hops, to replace varieties that currently give your beers their "signature" flavor. That's what we'll have to get used to, the fact that there may be slight flavor variations over the next several years, as the hop industry works to correct this situation.

As if that is not bad enough, this article notes that hops are not the only ingredient that is in short supply:

Barley prices, and those of wheat, also used in some beer, have hit all-time highs, said Mary Palmer Sullivan, program director for the Washington Grain Alliance in Spokane.

The barley shortage is due in part to drought, and also to the rise in demand for corn-based biofuels, as this NPR story notes. We may have seen the high water mark for barley, though, as prices seem to be declining somewhat.

No such luck for hops, however. As the hop supply report notes:

It's not going to get better soon, but will be likely just as bad, or worse, for the crops from 2008 and 2009, in other words, for beers brewed from now through 2010.

This was confirmed at our local homebrew supply shop, where hop prices jumped and availabilty is limited. So drink those hoppy beers while there's still time.

1 comment:

Rafaela said...