2012 Hop Harvest Part 2

2012 Hop Harvest Part 2

2012 Hop Harvest Part 2. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

This year’s northwest hop harvest was down around 10% from normal and Ann George, administrator for the Hop Growers of America feels that that is really more to a shift in varieties of hops. Her research is showing that the shift has been from the more bitter Alpha hops to the more flavorful Aroma varieties that the craft brewing industry has been embracing. Aroma varieties produce less than the Alpha.

GEORGE: Because of the leadership that the U.S. craft and specialty brewing industry is providing, we really do have the leaders of the craft and specialty brewing movement here in the U.S. and we’ve got all these brewers out around the world now, Brazil, Europe, Israel all over the world that are trying to emulate what’s happening in the U.S. and they just think this is so cool and we want to do this and how do we do this and what varieties.

Even the German’s who are famous for their beer have been trying to develop some of the same flavor varieties we have here in the states.

GEORGE: And that’s kind of what has given us a leg up on all this is because some of the varieties that we’ve actually had here in the states for 20 or 30 years now all of a sudden because of the growth in the craft and specialty brewing industry, they’re really starting to make an impact. And they’ve always been a very small segment and really weren’t able to exercise a lot of influence on things but now they’re up to something in the range of 10% of the beer volume in the United States.

George says another thing that is changing is the amount of hops being used.

GEORGE: They’re using so many more hops. The average U.S. hopping ratio is less than a quarter of a pound of hops for a 31-gallon barrel of beer. And it’s pretty well known that some of the big industrial beers, the really light, low bittering unit beers use probably less than a fifth of a pound of hops for a 31-gallon barrel of beer. You have some of these specialty beers that are using two to four pounds of hops in a 31-gallon barrel of beer.

That is still a very small segment in the overall volume of beer as produced by the major beer manufacturers. The last few years the supply and demand of hops has been like a see-saw.

GEORGE: While we still have a surplus - and again this goes back to the original discussion about Alpha varieties versus the aroma and flavor varieties - the brewers who use the aroma and flavor varieties aren’t using them for Alpha and they really don’t worry too much about Alpha because they pack so darn many hops in the beer that one way or the other they’re going to get a lot of bitterness units. But the Alpha side of the equation is still over supplied.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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