Good Beer Hunting

Sightlines — Record Hop Harvest Expected in Pacific Northwest

The Hop Growers of America have reported that this year's northwestern hop harvest could reach a record 98.1 million pounds. Hop acreage has seen its fifth consecutive year of growth, up 17% in the Pacific Northwest and 18.5% nationally. The U.S. now produces 40% of the world’s supply.

What a difference a year makes. This time in 2015, the reported hop shortage was supposed to push the price of craft beer up and keep hoppy styles off the table. But according to the USDA, yields in 2015 were actually up, despite it being a relatively poor harvest.

We’ve continued to see the emergence of an increasingly varied array of hop-forward beers—IPAs and Pale Ales are still dominating craft beer shelf space nationally. The results of this year’s hop harvest should put a smile on many brewers’ faces. However, the demand for highly sought after aromatic varieties such as Mosaic and Citra will continue. Brewers with longstanding hop contracts are likely to keep benefitting from these bold-flavored hops, leaving younger and smaller brewers with slim pickings.

While the news of a bumper crop may seem positive there are now fears of oversupply and warnings against further expansion. Ann George, Executive Director of Hop Growers of America, commented: “We have seen the downside of this market before due to oversupply. While we see a clear need, thanks to long shelf life, cost, and long-term commitment of growing hops, we encourage responsible contracting to ensure a stable market in terms of price and availability.”

Global beer production is expected to decline up to 3% over the next 12 months. But with strong growth in the craft sector, including an 8% increase in the U.S. this year, the demand for hops is still on the rise.

Anticipated Hop Production to Increase by 13 Million Pounds [Brewbound]