As craft beer brewers (read: smaller, independent operations) vie with each other for the best ingredients—not everyone is going to get their share of the “best” stuff.
Take the case of speciality hops. Hops that have outstanding aroma characteristics are being coveted by more and more brewers. This rush on speciality hops is causing a log jam in craft beer production and as a result sales are slipping down as well.
The following article in the Wall Street Journal goes a long way to explain the dilemma:
Here’s a snippet of the article written by WSJ’s Tripp Mickle and posted September 27, 2016:
“...The problem isn’t lack of hops production. Farmland devoted to the crop has increased 65% during the past five years to about 51,000 acres from 31,000 acres. About 70% of that land is planted with high-demand varieties such as citra, which also is a key ingredient in popular brews like MadTree’s PSA (Proper Session Ale).
“The problem is the rapid proliferation of tiny beer brands from a fiercely competitive and rapidly expanding craft beer industry. Beer drinkers now have an estimated 30,000 different choices from 4,000-plus brewers to pick from, compared with about 20,000 beers from 2,000 brewers five years ago, according to the Brewers Association.
“It takes hop developers such as S.S. Steiner Inc. and Select Botanicals Group about 10 years to cross-pollinate the beer-flavoring plants to create proprietary varieties with unique flavors and aromas. The results are new types including lemondrop and citra.
“Only about 10 hop varieties are central to many of today’s popular IPAs, and more than 4,000 brewers are battling for them, says Wicked Weed co-owner Luke Dickinson, who named the brewery after Henry VIII’s reported description of hops as a “wicked and pernicious weed.”
‘“It’s like a bunch of wolves going after a carcass,”’ he said.
“When a new hop style takes off, like citra has, ‘“it’s hard to keep up,”’ said Amy Matthews, brand manager at Select Botanicals.