Unless you've been living under a rock you've heard about the current hop shortage. There is even a brief mention in the MSNBC article I posted this weekend. Many breweries have already let folks know that beer prices were going to rise because of this. As brewers pay more for hops that impacts the market driving up the price of the six pack you buy in your grocery store. As lovers of craft beer most of us are used to paying more for our favorite beer, and frankly that's OK. I don't usually mind paying a bit more for something that's well crafted, whether it be a nice watch, a nice article of clothing or beer. Well crafted things tend to cost more, they are usually more labor intensive and they are made with finer ingredients.
I know that was a bit of a tangent so let me get back track. Beyond the hike in pricing the other impact to the hop shortage is changes in a beer's recipe. Certain hops are getting harder to find so a brewery may substitute Cascade Hops for Warrior hops or Amarillo hops. This is how local Houston Brewery Saint Arnold's is dealing with the hop issue. In this weeks Newsletter SA reports that although they have secured plenty of hops and malt for this year, they didn't necessarily always get the hops they wanted. For 2008 they will be using Columbus Hops instead of Cascade for bittering in the Amber and Elissa IPA (although as they state there will be plenty of Cascade hops in Elissa in late additions). They promise that the change is for this year only and they will revert to the original recipe next year. Time will tell if anyone can detect the difference.
One more piece of Saint Arnold's related news. They reported in the newsletter that their sales are up 30% for this year. That growth is absolutely astounding. Congratulations is well deserved to Brock and the gang.