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Chapter 9. Whither Brewing?

9. Whither Brewing?

The worm turned in 2007. A fire in a hop store in Yakima in 2006 hadn’t helped, taking with it substantial reserves. But the real cause of the hop crisis was founded on many brewers’ reluctance to pay the hop folks quite the price that is perhaps warranted for this unique crop. As one brewer said to me: “By the time we have finished with them, they don’t have a pot to piss in.” Some hop growers had had enough and grubbed out their yards, to be replaced with more reliable and rewarding sowings. Meanwhile, although the average bitterness content of the world’s beers was trending downwards (despite the best efforts of some hop-heads in the US craft sector), the worldwide production of beer was ever-growing. The tipping point had been reached, and there were not enough hops. Far-sighted brewers who had contracted ahead and who also had a reputation for treating hop merchants honestly and fairly were okay. But many others were hurting and desperate for supplies. The price zoomed.

Imagine what will happen if and when the hop people succeed in finding alternative outlets for their product. And they are looking. Already they are selling resins into the food industry for their preservative properties. Hops contain a diversity of fascinating molecules. According to Denis De Keukeleire of the University of Ghent:


  

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