Why craft beers are about to get a lot hoppier

The global hop shortage that never was means that now there’s more than enough to go around

Fresh hops, an ingredient in the production of real ales, at a traditional brewery: the cost of these magical green plants was going up and they were becoming increasingly difficult to source

Fresh hops, an ingredient in the production of real ales, at a traditional brewery: the cost of these magical green plants was going up and they were becoming increasingly difficult to source

 

This time last year there were a lot of worried brewers in Ireland – and around the world. Craft beer had a problem: the industry was facing into a major hop shortage. The cost of these magical green plants was going up and they were becoming increasingly difficult to source – in particular Citra, Mosaic and other so-called “hipster” aroma hops.   

A year later, however, the hop situation looks very different. The feared shortage of humulus lupus, as they’re called, was only a perceived one. Because many hop merchants signed contracts with microbreweries based on over-optimistic growth expectations, this tied up supplies and led to an impression of a shortage. Add to this a lot of newcomers to the craft scene – and worries about a possible poor harvest and rising prices – and many of the bigger microbreweries ended up buying more hops than they needed.

Prices are now starting to drop, which is good for brewers in the short term. In the long term, however, the fallout may hurt hop growers (who might decide to start growing something else) and ultimately cause a shortage in a few years’ time.

As for the beer – it’s likely to get a lot hoppier over the next while. And you’ll be seeing a lot more double-hopped and dry-hopped beers hitting the shelves. Like the latest release from the Norwegian brewery Lervig.

Their 6 per cent Tasty Juice Citra IPA is double-hopped and – like its name suggests – is tasty and juicy, if you like your IPAs cloudy and with lots of pineapple fruitiness.  

Bark and Bite by Wicklow Wolf is a triple-hopped 9 per cent imperial IPA, and is a special edition release for the brewery’s third anniversary. While it’s not that hoppy on the aroma, it has a malty, toasted character with a solid bitterness and makes for a warming sipper of a beer – perfect for autumn.

  • @ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com
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