CCHBS News for January 2008
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We're devoting this entire issue of the newsletter to the current hop situation, as a reflection of the serious nature of the shortage. We'll also discuss our response to it. There will be recipe specials for January but you'll have to come into the store to see what they are.
The current hop shortage is the result of a number of factors. There's a very good article in the current Brew Your Own magazine, but we'll give you a brief examination of the causes of the problem. Contrary to what most people immediately think, the American hop harvest was about average this year. However, decreasing acreage in the U.S., coupled with last year's warehouse fire resulted in large preorders by the large breweries, meaning lower availability for the rest of us.
The decreasing acreage in the U.S., was a result of overplanting in the early 90s. That overplanting led to hop s urpluses, which meant prices were artificially low. It also resulted in the excess hops being converted into hop extract, which has a longer shelf life. Those extracts have now run out, which again meant more demand for hops from the big breweries.
The last major contributing factor was bad weather in Europe last summer, leading to below average harvests. How bad varied from region to region but Slovenia, the primary source of Styrian Goldings, suffered from a devastating hail storm the week before the harvest was set to begin. We haven't seen Styrian Goldings for months and may not see any until next Fall.
The net result is that hops are in very short supply and will continue to be for the forseeable future. We expect to be able to get hops through the year, but in reduced varieties and quantities from what we're used to seeing. As a result, we've been forced to take the following measures:
- There will be no hop sa les unless someone buys the ingredients for a full batch. If you've been buying your grain and/or extract elsewhere, don't expect to buy hops from us. Good luck getting them from someone else.
- We're imposing a limit of 4 ounces of hops per 5 gallon batch. Double IPAs and Barleywines will just have to wait until the problem is resolved. (Actually, we're considering allowing purchases of more than 4 oz. but at double the going price for anything exceeding 4 oz. )
- We're also raising hop prices to $2.75/oz. effective immediately. They may go up even higher as the year goes on, since we haven't seen any European hops yet and don't know what the prices for those will be.
- Bulk hops card sales have been suspended for the foreseeable future.
We don't like having to do any of these things, but do realize we have to face reality at this time. We hope the explanation of the reasons for the shortage help you to un derstand and do the same.