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Old 10-26-2007, 05:18 AM   #1
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Default Is the hop shortage going to last forever?

Is this an indefinite situation, like gas prices, or is this a cyclical problem that may resolve itself within a year or two? I really hope it is the latter situation, because it looks like I got into this hobby a little too late.

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Old 10-26-2007, 05:42 AM   #2
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Grow your own!!!

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Old 10-26-2007, 01:12 PM   #3
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The hop shortage is cyclical, but the cycle for hops will probably mirror the hop growing cycle. So the shortage could last a couple years if they don't have a great harvest next summer. The shortage of hops will be corrected eventually by the invisible hand of the market, farmers will see that hop prices are up and plant them, the only problem is that it is sometimes a few years (2-3) before hop ryzomes start to produce any decent hops. So in short the shortage will definately last till next summer, and if the crop isnot huge it will probably last another year, till new hop producers come on line.

You can grow hops yourself, and may get some usable hops your first year, but the plants really won't come into their own till year two. By that time hopefully the shortage will be over.

Good luck

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Old 10-26-2007, 01:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brew Dude
... looks like I got into this hobby a little too late.
Never too late to homebrew! You might have to be willing to try other varieties and should prepare for the potential need to substitute different hops for those called for in a recipe.

Even with the rising prices, the good news for homebrewers is that at the current price of hops the cost per five gallon batch is still reasonable and results in an added cost of only 10 - 20 cents, more or less, per glass of brewed beer, as long as you are able to find the hops you were looking for that is.

Another bright side to this is that the current hop farmers will get an influx of cash that they can use to upgrade/expand their current production and the higher prices will entice more farmers to grow hops instead of other crops that aren't generating the same amount of revenue. All in all, it is a necessary but painful adjustment in the marketplace.
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:00 PM   #5
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Everything I have heard indicates that the shortage may last several years. There are so many factors contributing to the shortage that it is difficult to forecast when there may be a change.

Since hops are only harvested once per year, however, the current shortage will last at least until the next harvest.

In terms of starting your brewing career, now might actually be a great time. With the shortage of "popular" hops like Cascade, brewers are switching to alternative hops that are just as good if not better, increasing the variety of great beers. Experiment with the hops that are available to you, that's what homebrewing is really all about.

(As a side-note, it is my understanding that the shortage is not as bad for UK and European hops, but I could be wrong about that.)

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Old 10-26-2007, 02:04 PM   #6
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Hop prices being high makes it more profitable for existing growers to expand production and for new growers to enter the market, increasing supply and bring prices back down. That's the beauty of capitalism. It might take a few years (and a few good growing seasons), but it'll work its way out in the end. It's not like the energy crisis, since there's no inherent limit to the amount of hops that can be grown.

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Old 10-26-2007, 02:09 PM   #7
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Part of the problem is the trend to very high AA hops. They pay more, so many acres of aroma/flavor hosp were converted. Others were just dug up (we're talking 15 thousand of acres), when craft growth sagged around 2001. Bad crops in Europe and a demand there for highly hopped ales siphoned off much of the Cascades crop. Also, much of the growth in US craft sales are in the massively hopped IPAs. And the big fire last year exhausted the reserves.

Weird how fast a BMC drinker can become an IPA-only hophead!

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Old 10-26-2007, 02:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird
Hop prices being high makes it more profitable for existing growers to expand production and for new growers to enter the market, increasing supply and bring prices back down. That's the beauty of capitalism. It might take a few years (and a few good growing seasons), but it'll work its way out in the end. It's not like the energy crisis, since there's no inherent limit to the amount of hops that can be grown.
Exactly! The market will be flooded before long.
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdwj
Exactly! The market will be flooded before long.
3-5 years is the general time frame I have read cited to take a new plant to production.

Course, demand also has to push more acreage into hop production over other ag products.
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Old 10-26-2007, 02:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheJadedDog
In terms of starting your brewing career, now might actually be a great time. With the shortage of "popular" hops like Cascade, brewers are switching to alternative hops that are just as good if not better, increasing the variety of great beers. Experiment with the hops that are available to you, that's what homebrewing is really all about.
+1. Since I first started experimenting with recipes I've really wanted to start experimenting with some of the less common hops, but I didn't feel confident enough to get too wild with my own recipes just yet. Now with the hop prices skyrocketing, a lot of the 'weird' hop varieties are still very affordable while the popular ones are twice the price, so it's a PERFECT excuse to finally start experimenting.

I can understand that a newbie who's still unfamiliar with formulating recipes will be hesitant to go substituting hops into existing recipes they find online, but if they ask for help on the forum I'm sure the veterans here will gladly help them out.

If the UPS man comes through for me, today I'll have a whole bunch of hops sitting on my doorstep I've never used before: Ahtanum, First Gold, Polish Lublin, German Magnum, Simcoe, Sterling, Vanguard, and Glacier.
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