In the U.S. there has never been a more dynamic period of time in the hop industry than the past 9 years.
In 2010, U.S. aroma hop acreage stood at 8100, or around 26% of the total (31,289), with alpha acres accounting for the majority. Today’s aroma hop acreage is five times higher than it was in 2010 with aroma acres – all 40,000+ accounting for roughly 80% of an all-time high total U.S. acres under trellis (51,000). Our critical grower partners and dealers did that, hand in hand with the Craft community.
Think about that for a minute. In that same time, craft beer production volume increased by roughly 2.5 times. Does it feel like there are twice as many hops to go around per barrel as there were in 2010?
80% of total
All Time High
Maybe not, but if you were brewing beer in 2007 and endured that year’s worldwide shortage in all hops varieties, you feel one simple truth in your gut: this is better. Craft brewers can no longer complain that their needs are underserved. The hop industry has been incredibly responsive to the needs signaled by brewers, and that’s been a win-win-win for brewers, growers and dealers.
Be Smart with Your Hop Contract
Our durable message to members has been to engage in hop contracts, and to fulfill them. Dealers have occasionally let brewers out of excess hops in the past, but with dealer inventories growing significantly this spring, fulfilling your contract becomes an imperative: your end of the deal requires that you purchase what you promised to purchase. If you’re a brewer, that means buying what you need to make beer – no more and no less (one crystal ball required). You sure don’t want to be a brewer sitting on extra inventory when the industry as a whole finally hits a surplus. Nor do you want to be the customer who asks your dealer or grower to hold that inventory or sell it for you. Be sure you are prepared to purchase what you have committed to purchase.
Tracking Production and Hop Usage Helps Growers
Growers and dealers gain huge insight from brewers in the form of aggregated industry figures which signal overall direction in production volume and more detailed variety usage data.
Every January BA technical staff attends the annual Hop Growers Association (HGA) winter convention. HGA has been kind enough to invite BA to present an annual summary of brewer hop usage. This 35-40 minute presentation is the single most important thing BA technical staff can do to support the fulfillment of BA member brewers’ hop needs. This is how and when the Craft community clearly communicates its collective needs to our critical suppliers. This is how we all multiplied U.S. aroma hop acres by a factor of 5 over the past 6 hop crops.
By the way, if you’ve never been to the HGA Winter Convention, I highly recommend it as an awesome opportunity to network and learn how growers see the world. The 2017 edition will be in Bend, Oregon in mid-January.
We Need Your Data
Your brewery can help hop growers anticipate your brewery’s by participating in the Brewers Association’s Annual Hop Survey. The BA has offered the survey every year since 2008, and the aggregate data has proven to be invaluable to growers and dealers, and therefore to brewers.
The whole process takes about 20 minutes to gather your data and fill out the survey. Please participate as soon as possible; the survey will close on September 5, 2016.