Monday, March 28, 2011

Thanks for Stopping By!

Matt Sage dealing the green gold
San Francisco CBC. Our first show and Jim, Matt and I had a blast. Non stop fun, action, beer, laughs and food. Haven't had so much fun indoors since the time my Mom dropped me off at the State Theatre in Corvallis, Oregon on a dark, rainy day and I got to watch "Swiss Family Robinson" for 7 straight hours.

We had the pleasure of talking with brewers from Anchorage to Atlanta and from Portland, Maine to San Diego. Wherever they were from, a few common themes emerged.

Brewers understood the importance of keeping publicly owned varieties alive and well. Many a woe was expressed about the undersupply of privatized hop varieties to which the bereft brewer had become "addicted."

Brewers also understood that they could exert control over their future hop supply with reasonable and fair contracts. The days of living off the scraps that dropped from the tables of the big brewers are long gone. As one brewer put it, "Contracts have gotten a bad rap because of what happened in 2008 but they're the best bulwark against radical swings in supply and price."

We heard about one merchant offering a brewer Cascades for under $3 per pound. Three dollars a pound?!? For artisan aroma hops? Three dollars a pound is well below the costs of production and processing. It's a price so outrageously below market one is forced to ask whether the merchant is dumping hops with the goal of driving out competition.

Just a few years ago merchants were demanding $25 for Cascades. As Matt Sage wisely warned: "If you want to avoid paying $25 for hops, don't pay $3." Makes sense. Negotiate a price that is sustainable for the hop farmer, the hop processor and the brewer. Most brewers get it that quality artisan hops are going to cost more than factory-farm high-alpha varieties.
Roger and the HOP Queen

Had a wonderful time talking about all the good stuff Indie Hops is doing with hop oil maturity studies, oil extraction experiments, organic hop production, and our aroma hop breeding program at OSU. More importantly, I learned more about what keeps brewers up at night. I like to live by the old adage -- ain't no problem we can't solve.

Thanks again for dropping by the Indie Hops booth. It's great to be part of a thriving business that's equal parts inspiration, perspiration, science and spiritual awakening. The best statistic I heard all week is that while Craft is around 5% of the US beer production we produce 50% of the jobs! Very cool.


1 comment:

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