I’ve read a great many blogs lately that talk about the recent shortages in both malts and hops. This is the second year in a row that has been bad for hop harvests in Europe. Doug, the guy who runs Just Brew It! (the local homebrew store), mentioned that he couldn’t order any pellets – all that was available were leaf hops. Apparently this year, it was also a bad harvest for American hop-growing regions, so there is a major shortage of these beautiful, blessed plants.
In addition to the hop problems, there are also, apparently, similar problems with the supply of barley malt. Some of the blogs I’ve read even indicate that some small-scale brewers may not be able to get any malt in the near future. This could be devastating for small producers of craft brew, which is truly a shame.
So, expect to see prices going up at your local retail store for craft brew. Macro-brew isn’t as susceptible to these sorts of shortages. Very large brewers have the buying power to forge longer-term contracts. Their contracts give them higher priority when it comes down to who will get part of the limited supply of malts, and they also keep prices relatively stable for these big brewers. Furthermore, macro-brew is not particularly strong with either barley or hops. So any increase in price will be less evident than would be seen in all-malt, high-gravity, hoppy brews. If the price of water goes up however…
Who could talk about brewing and beer ingredients without bringing up the l’il beasties? Of course, I speak of yeast. I noticed this past weekend, while buying supplies for my last batch, that Doug had posted on the yeast and hops fridge a piece of paper that indicate the origins of several of Wyeast’s varieties. I searched for the same information on the web, and I found what will likely be an invaluable reference: especially considering I was a big fan of White Labs yeast before Marietta Homebrew closed (Just Brew It! only carries Wyeast liquid yeast). The reference shows the origins of nearly all varieties of both White Labs and Wyeast yeasts. It also has useful comparison charts that are good to have when trying to find the right Wyeast product when a recipe called for a White Labs strain. That reference can be found here.