16 February 2008

Boston Beer Hop Sharing

Jim Koch never fails to impress and demonstrate his support for the homebrew and craft beer segment, as shown in this email:

From: Jim Koch/Hop Sharing [mailto:Hop.Sharing@bostonbeer.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2008 9:22 AM
Subject: Boston Beer Hop Sharing

For a couple of months now, we've all been facing the unprecedented hops shortage and it's affected all craft brewers in various ways. The impact is even worse on the small craft brewers--openings delayed, recipes changed, astronomical hops prices being paid and brewers who couldn't make beer.

So we looked at our own hops supplies at Boston Beer and decided we could share some of our hops with other craft brewers who are struggling to get hops this year. We're offering 20,000 pounds at our cost to brewers who need them. Specifically, we are able to spare 10,000 pounds of East Kent Goldings from Tony Redsell, a top English grower featured by Michael Jackson in Michael Jackson's Beer Companion (page 75 has a picture) and 10,000 pounds of the German Noble hop Tettnang Tettnanger from small farms in the Tettnang region in Germany. These are both type 90 pellets from the 2007 crop and are the exact same hops we brew our own beers with. We're not looking to make money on this so we're selling them at our cost of $5.72 a pound plus $.75 a pound to cover shipping and handling for the Goldings and $5.42 per pound plus $.75 a pound to cover shipping and handling for the Tetts. They're packed in 22# foil bags, boxed four bags to a box in 88 lb. boxes and will be shipped from cold storage.

The purpose of doing this is to get some hops to the brewers who really need them. So if you don't really need them, please don't order them. And don't order them just because we're making them available at a price way below market. Order them because you need these hops to make your beer. We're not asking questions, so let your conscience be your guide.

A few mechanics--until we know how much need there is, we've put a maximum out there of 6 boxes per brewer, which is 528 pounds. You can order less in 88 pound increments. You pay shipping. If we get more orders than the 20,000 pounds, we'll have a lottery. We will be putting the basic information to order, some faqs and the actual offer on our website www.samueladams.com in the next day or so, probably no later than Tuesday. Look for "Hop-Sharing Program" on the front page of the site.

We hope this will make brewing a little easier for those hardest hit by the hop shortage.

Jim Koch, Boston Beer Company

Now that's what you call class!

So go buy some Sam Adams and support those that mutually support the craft brewing industry.



Eric Trimmer said...

$5.72 per pound is a pretty good price for hops producers.

Are hops really difficult or expensive to grow?

I don't understand how, even with subsidies, growing corn can be more profitable.

I know hops prices are really high now, but even at a quarter of the price Boston Beer is paying, hops are much more valuable than corn.

I'm going to have to investigate this issue a bit. I just don't know enough about the economics of agriculture for this to make any sense...

OSBC said...

Hops do require a little more care than corn. You'll see corn grown throughout the US whereas you'll only see hops successfully commercially grown in the Pacific Northwest. Worldwide, the hop growing regions are just as selective.

Because the market for corn is MUCH larger (feed corn, popcorn, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch, ethanol, etc) and because hops are---basically just hops and, hence, the smaller market, it's less volatile.

See the USDA Crop Report and contrast the hop section with the corn section.

Also, DEFINITELY check out Chris Colby's BYO article about the 2008 hop shortage. Here's a little something to wet your whistle:

total worldwide hop acreage in 1992: 236,067 acres

total worldwide hop acreage in 2006: 113,417 acres.

That's almost a 50% reduction!

Eric Trimmer said...

Thanks for the links. They answered a lot of my questions.

But with the craft beer market growing so quickly over the past decade, I'm surprised more hops growers didn't expand acreage to compensate.

Hindsight... 20-20... and all that, I guess.