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The Importance Of Hop Contracting

Not having the correct stocks of hops can cause huge problems for brewers, finding the right balance between having the supply, predicting a demand and formulating recipes can be tricky.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
- Peter F. Drucker

 

The Hop Grower
 
Where hops are grown and sourced spans the globe; notable producers include North America, New Zealand and Germany.  Hops grow best in moderate climates with rich soil and abundant sunshine, they cannot be sourced everywhere.  Those ideal regions that are fortunate enough to grow hops generally sit at similar latitudes on the world map, both northern and southern.  The Pacific Northwest is more favorable for hops with its milder weather and reliable precipitation.
Once a field of hops is established, it takes many years and much work before they end up in the hands of brewers.  The complex nature of growing hops, the work that is involved, alongside changes in any given crop year such as climate means that many have failed, however those that have succeeded are worthy of our appreciation.
 

 

Great Partnerships
 
At Loughran Brewing Stores, we are privileged to work with some of the best names in the industry.  In 2017, we made the decision to work with Crosby Hops, Oregon and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made to date.  Crosby Hop’s dedication to providing the best hops to amazing brewers across the world align with values and ideals of our own. In 2019, we started working with another North American hop grower, Indie Hops and German based grower BayWa.  Since then, these growers have not just become our partners but our friends.  In more recent years we are very privileged to partner with New Zealand’s Hop Revolution and Freestyle hops.  Adding two New Zealand based growers, such as these was an incredible honour for us. Most recently we have added Yakima Chief Hops, a great name in the industry, and we are incredibly grateful for the partnerships we have to date.
 
The Beer Industry
 
The growth of the craft beer industry has been phenomenal, not only in terms of growth in market share, but in terms of the quality of beer produced.  This new love and understanding has increased the demand for the best hops available.  Thanks to our great partners, we have been able to get our hands on the best hops available from Centennial, Idaho 7®, El Dorado to Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and who could forget Strata, just to name a few!
 
Contracting
 
Not having the correct stocks of hops can cause huge problems for brewers, finding the right balance between having the supply, predicting a demand and formulating recipes can be tricky.  This is what leads into discussing the ‘Importance Of Hop Contracting.’  There are several reasons why a brewer would want to contract hops:
 
Secure supply:  Hops are a global commodity with fixed volumes of each variety available each year.  There is no magic switch that will suddenly grow more Strata, or El Dorado.  By contracting early, brewers will be able to secure the hops they need for each harvest
Inform farmers: Hop farmers use information obtained from contracting to build their planting and growing strategy.  Without this valuable piece of information, farmers are unable to plan for demand.  If certain varieties are not contracted, growers will simply stop growing them and brewers could face shortages on those.
Stabilize Pricing:  There is nothing worse than realizing that a hop that is key to a brewer’s production has increased in price by a large percentage year on year.  By contracting 2-3 years in advance, brewer’s are able to stabilize prices, and be more competitive and more profitable.
 
 
Planning Is Vital
 
Just like any crop it can be unpredictable and is reliant on many factors. Diseases, weather and plaque are some of the most unimaginable disaster that can affect hop growth.
 
If there is a hop variety that you know you consistently use in the beers you produce and beers you will develop in the future then you undoubtedly should contract it.  If hop yields ever suffered due to any unimaginable reason then there is much safety in those that have hop contracts.
 
 
 
If you have any questions regarding hop contracting, please do not hesitate to contact… 
IE & EU: will@malt.ie
 
 

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