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Beer hopping rates: 1911-2011

Notice a trend here?

In 1911, exactly one hundred years ago, world consumption of hops was 0.63 pounds per hectoliter (0.54 per barrel), amounting to 12.6 grams of alpha per hectoliter.

The best comparison going forward is grams of alpha per hectoliter, rather than bulk, because of the advent of high alpha hops and the use of pellets and extracts.

In the early 1970s — when about one-third of hops were processed, compared to nearly 90 percent today — the rate was 9 grams per hectoliter.

Here’s how it has progressed since:

1979 – 8 grams
1989 – 7 grams
1997 – 6 grams
2011 – 4.1 grams

Source: Barth Report, from the Barth Haas Group

13 Responses to Beer hopping rates: 1911-2011

  1. Brett September 16, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    I’m doing my best to pull up the average. According to my math, my homebrew seems to range between 20-70 grams of alpha acid per hectoliter (scaling up from 5 or 10 gallon batches), depending on the style.

  2. Chris Q September 16, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Brett brings up an interesting point. Despite the very vocal minority of craft beer enthusiasts, who’ve become known for their love of hops, it shows how much that really is just a drop in the bucket when compared to global trends, which seem to continue down the road towards blander and blander macro lagers.

    Very interesting stuff…

  3. Brett September 16, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Chris – it’s more than just people choosing blander beers; it is also iconic brands becoming blander. I remember seeing lab analysis of the Budweiser brand, which steadily declined in IBU’s from the 1970’s to today via reformulation.

    While craft beer is the interesting and growing “fringe” of the beer-world, it remains (as you point out) a small counter-trend to a much bigger trend towards lighter and lighter adjunct lagers that is going on 100+ years.

    • Stan Hieronymus September 16, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      It would take a lot to offset China, which now produces 87 (eighty-seven) percent more beer than the U.S. and apparently uses hops at a lower rate than the rest of the world.

  4. Brett September 16, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    @Stan – perhaps we here should be grateful that the Chinese haven’t acquired a taste for hops?

  5. Steve September 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    “perhaps we here should be grateful that the Chinese haven’t acquired a taste for hops?”

    But imagine how we might jack up prices — we could turn the economy around! 😉

    Really Stan? 87% more than the US? Wow. The Chinese must really like beer.

  6. Mike September 17, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    Are Brett and Chris Q saying that there are only two types of beer – hoppy and bland?

  7. Steve September 17, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    I think they’re just calling macro lagers blander and blander.

  8. Mike September 17, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks, Steve. OTOH, those bland industrial beers seem to be doing rather poorly. If we say there’s industrial beer on one side and extreme/hoppy beers on the other side, I would think it is the middle – in between them – where most growth is occurring – flavourful, but balanced beers.

  9. Thomas September 17, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Steve not really considering China’s population size they don’t drink much US I thought about it and expected the number to be much more. 129 bottles (US) per capita compared to 35 per year for China.

    When that number jumps things will get interesting…

  10. CarlT September 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Interesting numbers, and the average bitterness has for sure gone lower and lower in beer, but how was this calculated? 4.1g of alpha per hectoliter is equal to 41mg per liter, otherwise known as IBU. An IBU of 41 is for sure quite bitter, and must be way higher than 95% of the volume of beers produced. Are these numbers adjusted for the utilization factor, and if so, does it take into account that todays extract have 100% utilization factor, compared to for example pellets and older type extracts which have 30-60% depending on the type ?

  11. Stan Hieronymus September 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    CarlT – That’s alpha acids, not iso alpha, which roughly translate to IBU. Hops usage has shrunk both because IBU levels have gone down, but also because brewers are more efficient.

  12. Jorge - How To Brew Beer September 21, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    @Thomas There is still more beer consumed in China even if they only drink 25 bottles per capita based on their population (1.331 Billion) compared to the US (307 Million)…

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