Nov
26
2007

Hoppier times past: Beer ingredient shortage could brew up higher prices

Don't cry in your beer: A world-wide shortage of hops will soon be showing up in higher prices for specialty microbrews.
Don't cry in your beer: A world-wide shortage of hops will soon be showing up in higher prices for specialty microbrews.Courtesy FredArmitage
I have a neighbor, Mike, who’s a home brewer and at a holiday gathering this past weekend, he shared some sobering news: microbrewery-produced beers will be seeing prices going up soon due to a worldwide hops shortage.

Hops are a flower used in the brewing process that give different beers their specific tastes. Worldwide, the supply is down an estimated 8 to 15 percent due a variety of factors impacting the 2006 crop of hops: heavy rains in Europe, drought in Australia.

On top of all of that, farmers worldwide are planting fewer hops. Compared to levels from ten years ago, there is a 35 percent drop in the amount of acreage being devoted to hops development. And that’s largely being driven by a new market for corn products for producing ethanol-based fuels.

Hops are used much more in the specialty beer brewing field than in the large, commercial beer-producing breweries. So prices of those beers won’t be impacted too much. But specialty brews could see price hikes of 50 cents to $1 per six pack to make up added hops costs, brewers are estimating.

Mike, my neighbor, has a assured me he has ample supply of hops for keep his home brews going well into next year, which is nice, because he doesn’t charge me anything to sample his beers...at least for now.

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