Breweries across Long Island remain optimistic in hop shortage

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By: Giovanni Ortiz & Randall Waszynski

 

Long Island breweries are still able to obtain Citra hops as planned despite the report of a national shortage published by the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 27.

 

Albeit very popular, the hop is only grown in three states in the Pacific northwest: Oregon, Washington and Idaho. But the WSJ reported that the shortage a�?[contributes to] the sudden slowdown of craft beer sales.a�? Each of the 32 Long Island breweries uses Citra, a trademark hop that has a distinct citrusy taste, in at least one of its drinks.

 

a�?We expect to meet our contractual obligations and have some spot volume available from the 2016 Citra crop,a�? Steve Carpenter, the Interim Chief Executive Officer of Hopunion, said.

 

Brewers Supply Group reports that the company has not experienced the shortage, and Hopunion claims that no contracts will be compromised due to a shortage.

 

Hops distributors, like BSG and Hopunion LLC, base the amount of a particular hop to plant for the year on how much was contracted by breweries well in advance. a�?While they can’t 100 percent set the pricea�� there are certain amounts of supply and demand that still goes ona�� they’re not planting unless somebody signs up for it,a�? Bart Watson, the Chief Economist of the Brewers Association, said.

 

a�?Quite a few years ago, there was a hops shortage,a�? Steve Pominski, owner and head brewer of Barrage Brewing Company, said. a�?It affected some of the beers, but if you just depend on Citra for the majority of your beers, then you’re going to be hurt. It only affects a couple of beers for us.a�?

 

More often than not, growers only farm enough for the breweries who have contracted, while the smaller or newer breweries only get what is left.

 

a�?Citra’s been going up pretty fast,a�? Watson said. a�?Not everyone who wanted every last ounce of Citra could get it last year, or currently, but I wouldn’t say there’s a shortage because if you want Citra, you can put in a contract, and you can get Citra pretty quickly. We haven’t seen them really restricting how much is getting planted.a�?

 

A 48 percent increase in the amount of the cropa��s harvest next year is scheduled under contract, according to data provided by the National Agriculture Statistics Service collected from Washington State, Oregon and Idaho.

 

Despite the increase, smaller breweries worry that large-scale ones would dominate the new harvest.

 

a�?Some of the more popular hops have shortages,a�? Gabe Haim, a manager at Oyster Bay Brewing Company, said. a�?Ita��s definitely an industry problem. All it takes is a big brewery to buy up all the crop, so ita��s definitely an issue.a�?

 

Although many companies fear losing their chance at obtaining a portion of Citra, others find nothing to be afraid of. Some even doubt there is a real shortage.

 

a�?[I] dona��t think ita��s really a thing,a�? Greg Martin, co-owner and brewer at Long Ireland Beer Company in Riverhead, said. a�?Sometimes ita��s not a shortage, but therea��s not enough for those who dona��t have contracts.a�?
Those without planned-out contracts, particularly the most recently established breweries, are subject to purchasing hops through the spot market. Ensuring a haul year in and year out will feature less of a struggle as the relatively young Long Island breweries continue to grow.