Your favorite craft beer may cost you a little bit more next time you walk into a local bar or brewery.
Due to severe drought on the West Coast, the entire state of Washington’s agriculture is drying up faster than an empty beer mug after last call.
Partly due to low snowpack from this past winter, Washington’s fertile Yakima Valley and the rest of the state —where nearly 73% of the nations hops are grown— is not producing enough water for hops vines which may affect beer drinkers across the nation.
Ann George, Executive Director of the Washington Hop Commission told NBC that they won’t know the damage done by the drought until harvest, which takes place from August to October.
The main people affected by this drought will be local breweries and consumers. Most of the harvest each year is locked up in forward contracts, with NBC estimating that 85% of next years crop is already locked in. This affects brewer’s who do it for enjoyment and mom and pop breweries that may buy hops on an ‘as-needed’ basis.
Michael Butler, Chairman and CEO of Cascadia Capital predicted a hops shortage beginning in 2016 when interviewed by NBC.
“Next year you won’t have more land for hops, You have a shortage of water. You’re going to have more demand from the craft breweries, and so you kind of pass the inflection point where the demand is greater for hops than the supply. The consumer will pay a higher price for beer. That is without question.”
Nearly all of the hops production takes place in the Yakima Valley and Yakima basin and 98.6% of Washington is affected by the severe drought.
Most hops can withstand a slight recession in water but three of the main varietals of hops used in West Coast-style IPA’s — Centennial, Simcoe and Amarillo — do not fair well in harsh conditions.