Sam Adams Comes To The Hop Shortage Rescue

And that's not all. Brew Your Own Magazine explains how the shortage will likely result in growers planting higher-yield and hardier hops used mostly by big breweries, phasing out the small varieties prized by home and craft brewers. This short-term shortage may result in very long-term problems for small-batch brewers.

Recently, Sam Adams came to the (short-term) rescue by offering craft-brewers the opportunity to buy 20,000 pounds of hops from their surplus supplies. Why help the competition?

"As the largest craft brewer, Samuel Adams has a little more leeway than some of the smaller craft brewers. We buy our hops under long term contracts with select growers. This hops shortage could be extremely difficult for some of the very small breweries in our industry. We have contracts for 2007, 2008 and beyond for most of our varieties, and in a way, we are betting on a strong 2008 crop."

Even better, they're selling them at cost -- under $6 a pound -- which is drastically lower than what they could get for them on the open market. What's to stop nefarious brewers from buying what they don't need, or re-selling the hops?

"The purpose of doing this is to get some hops to the brewers who really need them. So if you don’t really need them, please don’t order them. And don’t order them just because we’re making them available at a price way below market. Order them because you need these hops to make your beer. We’re not asking questions, so let your conscience be your guide."

Maybe all those commercials showcasing the happy, dedicated, beer-lovin' folk of the Boston Beer Company are more than just a marketing campaign.

Last year, the news that there was a worldwide shortage of hops sent chills up my beery spine. The little flowers that add complexity, aroma and bitterness to beer are grown around the world, but some of the biggest producers experienced huge shortfalls in 2007. Hops that sold in previous years for a few dollars per pound skyrocketed to OPEC-style levels, many at $25 a pound or more. And even if brewers could afford the huge hit to their bottom line, through price increases that customers aren't going to be happy with, they often couldn't find enough hops to buy.

Scroll to read more Food News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.