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Hops shortage in States sparks plea for brewers to buy British

By Helen Gilbert , 19-May-2014
Last updated on 19-May-2014 at 09:54 GMT

Related topics: General News

New brewers hoping to tap into the burgeoning craft beer market could struggle to source hops in the States and should consider British varieties, the British Hops Association has claimed.

The price of some American hops has soared

The price of some American hops has soared

Spokeswoman Alison Capper made the recommendation in the wake of reports that a surge in demand in the US had doubled the price of the specialist aroma and flavour hops to about $7 to $10 a pound over the past five years – the highest since 2007-08 when the market was hit by a severe drought.

Capper told the PMA that some American aromas had become ‘fashionable’, with many craft beer-makers in the UK insisting on using US-grown hops in their brews. However, she warned that the rapid growth of the brewing technique in the US could result in supply shortages in a couple of years’ time, and added that any adverse weather event in Germany or America – the countries behind 35% of world hop production each – could also have an impact.

“Although American hop growers might be seeing price rises, I don’t think European (Germany, UK, Slovenia and Czech Republic) – growers are to the same extent,” Capper said. “That’s about fashion and trends. Some of the American aromas are very fashionable…I hope British brewers haven’t forgotten about British hops. We British hop growers are still here and we’d love your business.”

Demand

James Cuthbertson, director of Dark Star Brewing Co said: “With the rise of craft beer here and in America demand is going to outstrip supply so you might see a price rise here. For new brewers coming into the market it might be tricky [to source hops] but from our point of view it’s not a problem as we secure our hops in advance.”

A spokesman for the BBPA added: “Whilst there is currently an issue in the USA regarding some specific hop varieties that have become popular, it is not believed that this will have a significant effect on the majority of UK brewers, who enjoy the wide variety of hops already produced in Britain as well as those that can be sourced from other hop growing regions around the globe.

“Additionally in Britain we continue to invest heavily in a concerted breeding programme for hops which centres around developing new varieties that possess exciting new flavours and aromas, alongside better pest resistance and improved suitability to the changing climate.”

Shepherd Neame declared it sources 95% of its ale hops from Kent. Head brewer Richard Frost said: “We have been using the same growers for generations. We work on long-term buying agreements through hop merchants, and as such we do not expect to be affected."

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