WATCH (above): Hops is one of the primary ingredients in beer and specialty brews require about six times the amount of regular beer. It’s made the vine very popular and because growers can’t keep up, it’s made beer very pricey. Kylie Stanton reports.
Meeting the growing demand for craft beer has made hops growers very happy but at the same time it’s also causing a shortage of these unique plants, which in the end, could drive up the price of beer.
Hops, one of the primary ingredients in beer, is grown as a plant and then manufactured into pellets for brewing. It’s this ingredient that is a key part of the brewing process and gives craft beers their unique flavour.
“It’s all natural, four ingredients and people have a real strong confidence that they know what they’re getting,” Murray Langdon from Vancouver Island Brewery says.
But that increasing popularity of IPA’s comes at a price.
“It’s staggering [the hop's farms] acceleration,” says Ken Beatty, BC Craft Brewers Guild. “There are more hop farms then there were five years ago but there certainly aren’t enough to meet the demand of hops.”
In 2013, the average price for hops was less than $4 a pound and while there is a range, some varieties are now approaching $10 a pound.
“Right now hops are at the highest they’ve been in 10 years,” says Blake Crosby from Crosby Hop Farms.
“And we’re at a place where growers can finally afford to make expansions and really grow their business, which is nice.”
In an attempt to anticipate the hops supply fluctuations, breweries are locking into multi-year contracts but overall, it’s not a permanent solution.