Before I finish a more complete report from last week’s American Hop Convention and the Hop Growers of America annual statistical report one quick bit of calming news for homebrewers. You will be able to buy hops this year and next and the one after. Really.
It appears there were some shockwaves when I reported the 2015 crop was basically sold out. Even though I wrote That does not mean homebrewers or new breweries or operating breweries that didn’t plan ahead won’t be able to buy hops.
A decent chunk of the hops already spoken for are committed to homebrewers. For instance, those one-ounce and one-pound nitrogen flushed bags from Hopunion account for about 10 percent of its sales. (A quick aside – the American Homebrewers Association estimates that homebrewers make 1% of beer brewed in the country, but they are 10% of Hopunion’s business. And the rest of the world thinks America’s small brewers use hops at a crazy rate.)
It still makes sense to plan ahead and pick up the varieties you want when you see them available – the plus being they’ll be shipped cold this time of year and you can monitor your own storage. Shortages may be surprising. For instance, U.S. Golding is already planted on limited acreage in Washington and the crop was a disaster. And although production of Centennial grew by a healthy amount it was still less than expected. The good news is yield was up for proprietary varieties like Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado.
There’s still an infrastructure problem that will affect everybody using hops, but more about that on Friday.