Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Hops and Craft Brewing

There seems to be a lot of fuss about keg beer at the moment. Some think it's great and others don't. Some think that cask is the only good beer and some think that some cask is good and some keg is good. Most of these people tend to agree that some beer really isn't good.

Generally most beer that finds favour with progressive beer enthusiasts use progressive hopping. Often using hops that come all the way from a place called America. The problem is, these hops are only harvested in Autumn and often aren't available until perhaps December. Of course there are places over here in the UK where the hops are stored and people like us buy them from time to time, but if they run out we have to wait until December to get them.

They just ran out.

Today Ann tried to order hops. "There is some good news" she reported back to me, with the hint in her voice that I should brace for the inevitable bad news. "Faram's are saying that their trade is up 50% this year, more people are brewing more progressive beer with more hops"

Coooool, I thought. "But?"

"They've run out of Willamette, Centennial, Citra and Amarillo"

"Buggery"

So, while you lot have been worrying about who might or might not like extraneous CO2, the biggest threat to craft brewing just happened. If you are a brewer, have products that use these hops and haven't forward bought you might have problems.

However, the New Zealand harvest is in next week, so it's not all lost.

21 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

I've got 100g of Citra in the fridge you can have for £200.

Simon Johnson said...

If you are a brewer, brew profitable beer with these hops and haven't forward bought, then you are either a slave to fashion or do not have a tenable business plan.

Curmudgeon said...

How about a challenge to your brewing skills to brew something subtle using Fuggles and Goldings? ;-)

Ed said...

Bugger about the Amarillo, and Bramling cross has gone too. :-(

Maybe I could just use Fuggles but play them some Genesis? ;-)

Jeff Pickthall said...

You'll just have to use English. After all, everyone knows they are the best.

Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

“progressive beer enthusiasts“ — I’m afraid that takes me back to the sixth form when rows broke out over the likes of ELP vs the New York Dolls vs Queen vs Van Der Graaf Generator while Malcolm McLaren finished polishing off the Sex Pistols in the Kings Road and made it all a bit superfluous, something that makes me smile nowadays — oddly enough, I am getting a bit bored with beers that taste like M&S passion fruit juice, but getting turned on by ones that have geranium on the nose like Moor’s Illusion (Galaxy perhaps?), a bit musky and perfumy, grown up, not infantile Fruit Shootish. Also thinking about malt. And rediscovering Fuggles and Goldings, but then, as George Orwell once noted, there’s always been a bit of a self-hate thing going on amongst those Brits who regard themselves as superior to the rest of the buggers who share office space with them.

zythophile said...

Harviestoun's Haggis Hunter, brewed with absolutely masses of just Fuggles, awas fantastic.

Martyn Cornell

HardKnott Dave said...

BN, a typical usage of Citra would be around 10kg per month. I don't think I have the spare cash to fund my habit at £2k per kilo.

Simon, my first thought was a two word phrase. It seems I have not got a tenable business plan and I am a slave to fashion.

But, my first year away from the pub was supposed to be developing products, creating markets and then doing a business plan. We've been too busy serving the market we've created with the products we've developed to do a business plan. This is actually biting us more than you know.

As a result I'd like to assign a single word noun, starting in "T", to replace Simon.

As for the remaining question of what hops to use? I'm developing brands, I'm not as hung up on actual varieties as this post suggests.

But FUGGLES? Pah!

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

We can't get them either. I settled for three pounds of Falconer's Flight from the local homebrew shop for my one-off IPA. I sometimes have to have whispered conversations with brewers I know working for large breweries, late at night, by the back door with a ziplock baggy and a pocket full of cash.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Oh.... and those Nelson Sauvin's from New Zealand ... they're mine. Hands off.

Simon Johnson said...

I want you to still be trading in three years time, Dave. Pure and simple.

HardKnott Dave said...

Simon, thank you, and I realise that your comments are based on sound advice.

My annoyance at you is simply because you are right.

HardKnott Dave said...

ATJ, the more I think about what you are saying the more I think you have a point.

Pale citric beers are getting a bit ubiquitous and in my view a good malt background is often missing.

I've quite convinced myself that the New Zeeland hops are going to be fun to experiment with.

Mark said...

They've all run out?! You'll need to get in there quick with the NZ stuff too - BrewDog will need as much of that as possible as their core range all feature loads of Nelsons!

I heard Simcoe were low as well...

Could be an interesting winter ahead with low stocks on those hops!

Leigh said...

ATJ/Dave - maybe it's because I'm a Yorkshireman, and we're a bit unfussy like this, but Balance is always king to great beers. Sure, give me hoppy, or malty, one-offs, but Balance will always be a keyword with me. Dave - will you have to subsitute/rearrange recipes in the future, then? Surely this happens all the time as Hop crops dwindle/even die out?

HardKnott Dave said...

Mark, once we get to December the new American crop will be in. I need to secure my share....

Leigh, you are absolutely right. Most brands of beer are un-committal about the hops they use for that very reason. In any case, my mission for my beers is simply to make them as good as I can, introducing new hops varieties has always been part of that for me.

StringersBeer said...

Well said Dave. Is it "fashion" when we respond to customer demand with new products? Is it bad business, when, as a new business, it's difficult to predict demand?

We don't "buy forward", we outsource our buying (and storage) to the factor. That's what factors are for, that's how they make their money. And we smooth out our cash-flow.

That said Dave, if you're happy to pay "£2k per kilo", we should talk :-)

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

I can see alot of Nelson Single Hop IPA emerging from craft brewers this summer.....

Chris Hall said...

All this talk of fixes, kilos and habits is quite amusing.

Is NZ the new Columbia for expensive imported substances??

James, Brewer @ SWB said...

When I said that there was a new wave of hoppy craft beer sweeping the UK, a certain Mr John Clarke accused me of 'hyperbole'. Charles Faram's saying trade is up 50% this year & a lot of popular hop varieties are out of stock halfway through the year proves otherwise, as beer volumes are falling but hop usage is growing, there's the proof right there, Mr Clarke.

Curmudgeon said...

It can hardly be said to be "sweeping the UK" when it is conspicuous by its absence in any "mainstream" pub. "Sweeping the specialist beer scene" maybe, but as yet it is not resonating in the wider world.