Enjoy your favourite speciality beer while you can because, according to the chairman of the Klein Brouwerij Collectief (Small Brewery Collective), there is a chance that it will not be available in the near future. Breweries are dealing with a growing scarcity in hops. As a result, brewers can no longer brew all the beer they’d like to.
The scarcity is a result of the growing demand for hops in recent years. This is partly due to the rising popularity of speciality beer, which often contains significantly more hops than an ordinary beer.
On top of that, the dry summer of 2015 led to an unusually bad harvest. In actuality, the harvest has been decreasing over the last couple of years, but 2015 seems to have been a low point. In 2009, over 112,000 tons were harvested, while in 2015, the harvest did not exceed 86,000 tons.
The consequences of this are particularly negative for small brewers. Large brewers often have long-standing contracts with suppliers, which gives them an advantageous position. The Vereniging Nederlandse Brouwers (Dutch Brewers Association), for example, an overarching organisation for the ten largest brewers in the Netherlands, indicates that it has not suffered as a result of the shortage. Small brewers in particular have difficulty obtaining the hops they need to brew their unique beers.
The prices of unusual beers will also significantly rise; simply due to the fact that the demand has become much larger than the supply.
People might raise the question of whether hops is really even necessary anymore. In the Middle Ages, beers were also brewed without hops and, furthermore, a real sensation of flavours can also be created using other ingredients. Some brewers are already experimenting with this. Still, opinions are divided regarding the question of hops’ importance in the brewing process.
Een speciaalbier van één van de grote Nederlandse brouwers.
Foto Koen van Weel / ANP