January 28, 2008

Hops High

I like hops, but I’m hoping the hops shortage that’s all over the news means we’ll be seeing more attention to malty beer styles.

We had an extra-hoppy beer at a restaurant in Saratoga, and Sara immediately commented on the lack of body. She was right. The beer had been named for its hoppiness (it was loud in the room and I never did catch the complete name).

Not enough work was put into balancing the maltiness, which meant that the beer delivered a hops kick which quickly faded into a weak and dry finish. It was very sad.

Give me some doppelbocks or alts.

One thing that should worry all craft beer lovers, aside from the price hikes that will undoubtedly come, is that exceptional beers they know and love because of their specialty hops may fall victim to substitutions which leave them less unique.

The above-linked Globe article suggests that brewers may get creative to avoid using all those hops. I hope they invent some new beers rather than just try to fool people that they’re still drinking the same beloved recipes. And I urge them to rely on maltiness! It may not be as popular as hops overload, but there is more to beer than just hops.

Posted by James at January 28, 2008 12:40 PM
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Comments

I totally agree, and I back that agreement up with my vast knowledge of quantum physics--that's what makes atoms fart you know...

Posted by: Chuck S. at January 28, 2008 8:02 PM

*hopes Guinness is one of the brewers who ordered ahead, as it is quite expensive enough, thank you*

This blogger thinks the shortage is being caused by corn subsidies, which I find interesting, though he didn't really back up his argument at all: kcbeerblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/hops-shortage.html

Posted by: leslie at January 29, 2008 9:18 AM

I think the depressed prices led to people selling out to developers during the housing boom. The key is location, since hops only grow in certain areas. The pacific northwest is particularly well-suited.

Hops grow in New England as well. My brother-in-law gave me some hop flowers once from rhizomes he had planted.

Posted by: James at January 29, 2008 9:57 AM

Although the hops shortage is probably affected somewhat by corn subsidies and housing development, as well as by 'the big warehouse fire' and a bad crop year, I don't believe they are the primary causes. I can't recall the name or URL, but about a month ago I listened to a podcasted interview of a professional hop buyer who explained that hop farmers began switching to other crops as early as the late 90's because it was unprofitable due to over production which caused low prices, and that the brewing industry has been using more hops than have been grown for many years now by using up the tremendous surplus which had been stored, including some as hop extracts. The surplus has now been depleted, more quickly due to a bad crop and a fire, and now demand exceeds supply. Micro breweries are going to be hurt the most, but many homebrewers are joining my Grow-Hops Yahoo Group (over 830 new members since last May) to learn about growing their own. If you homebrew and want to learn more, see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Grow-Hops ... Thanks.

Cheers.

Bill Velek

Posted by: Bill Velek at January 30, 2008 4:21 AM

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