What 3,465 Breweries Are Doing To The Hop Supply

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I admit there’s a certain “duh” factor to this, but it’s still interesting to see the numbers. With IPA and other hoppy beers accounting for over 20% of the craft beer market, there’s not enough hops being grown to keep up with current demand, and it will only get worse as interest continues to grow, as it seems likely the popularity of hoppy beers will be with us for the foreseeable future. This is from the May 2015 issue of Popular Science, which has a short article entitled Craft Beer is Annihilating the Hop Supply, which adds that demand for hops has “nearly quadrupled in the past decade.”

The article is subtitled “why that might be a good thing,” presumably alluding to the increased demand, but never really answers that question satisfactorily. There’s a quote from the former director of the Hop Growers of America, Doug MacKinnon, saying “Craft brewing is sucking up every pound of hops in the U.S. Growers can’t expand fast enough,” and suggesting that’s opening up the market beyond Washington, Oregon and Idaho, where U.S. hop growing has been concentrated at least since prohibition ended.

The article cites as proof that “single-acre hop operations are popping up on other types of farms across the country, including “Growers in New York, Minnesota, and Colorado,” and I’m also aware of similar efforts with commercial farms in Maine, Wisconsin and California, and I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody. Hops-Meister, which is near Clearlake, started in 2004 and grows ten different varieties on at least 15 acres. Co-owner Marty Kuchinski will be talking to my class tonight about hop farming. California used to grow more hops than any other state prior to prohibition, but never rebounded as farmers here found they could make more per acre growing grapes, but it’s why that legacy includes the town of Hopland and the Hop Kiln Winery. And New York used have an entire hop industry in the 19th century, until a downy mildew problem and other issues forced many to move production out west. So it’s little surprise that, with more modern farming methods, this growing demand would bring back hop farming to many parts of the country, not to mention a strong desire for brewers to have more local ingredients.

But the numbers just seem crazy: 27 million pounds of hops in 2014, and an estimated 31 million pounds this year.

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Patent No. 4659662A: Batch Fermentation Process

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Today in 1987, US Patent 4659662 A was issued, an invention of Win-Pen Hsu, assigned to J. E. Siebel Sons’ Company, Inc., for his “Batch Fermentation Process.” Here’s the Abstract:

Ethanol and fermented beverages such as beer or wine are produced in a batch process by contacting a fermentable substrate with yeast cells encapsulated within a porous, semi-permeable material. Contacting is carrier out in a vessel containing the substrate and a semi-permeable retaining means submerged in the substrate. Encapsulated yeast cells are maintained below the retaining means and in contact with the substrate during fermentation while being freely movable in a portion of the substrate. The retaining means is permeable to the substrate and is substantially impermeable to the encapsulated yeast cells. Preferably, the matrix encapsulating the yeast cells is an alginate gel.

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Beer Birthday: Steve Parkes

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Today is the 55th birthday of Steve Parkes. Steve owns and runs the American Brewers Guild, which trains brewers. I’ve known Steve for a number of years now and he’s one of my favorite Brits in the industry. I had the pleasure of writing a profile of him for Beer Advocate magazine a few years ago, from which I learned the following. Steve studied brewing sciences at Heriot-Wyatt University in Edinburgh and worked at several small UK breweries before moving to Maryland to open British Brewing (later known as Oxford Brewing). He then moved to California and created Red Nectar for Humboldt Brewing, which is also where he caught the teaching bug. Eventually buying the ABG school in 1999, three years ago finally making the leap to running the school full-time. In 2009, Steve was awarded the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing by the Brewers Association at CBC in Boston. Steve said at the time. “It’s gratifying when someone notices what you’re been doing every day. It just feels tremendous, like standing on the shoulder of giants. The willingness to share is the best part of this industry. I love being part of a working community that thinks like that. It makes you a better person.” Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

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Pete Brown and Steve at the GBBF in 2009.

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Steve at Cantillon in Brussels.

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Enjoying a Rodenbach.

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Words fail me. Happy birthday Steve. [Note: Last three Photos Purloined from Facebook.]

Beer In Ads #1531: Finest Beer Carole Landis Ever Tasted


Monday’s ad is for Schaefer Beer, from 1947. It’s one of a series of ads Schaefer did with famous people talking about the “Finest Beer I Ever tasted.” In this one, it’s Carole Landis, who was an American actress in the late 1930s through around 1948. Although you can’t see why in this photo, Landis’ nickname was “The Chest.”

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Patent No. 5203181A: Container-Cooler

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Today in 1993, US Patent 5203181 A was issued, an invention of Charles E. Brossia, Philip S. Desmond, and Eckhard F. Rahn, assigned to Miller Brewing Company, for their “Container-Cooler.” Here’s the Abstract:

A container-cooler for a beverage, such as beer, includes a conventional keg-shaped outer shell, an inner vessel for containing the beverage retained within the shell, and a space between the inner vessel and the outer shell for receiving a cooling medium, such as ice.

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Beer Birthday: Drew Beechum

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Today is the 41st birthday of Drew Beechum, who’s a past president of the Maltose Falcons homebrewing club and its current webmeister. He’s also the author of The Everything Homebrewing Book: All you need to brew the best beer at home! and writes a regular column for Beer Advocate magazine. Join me in wishing Drew a very happy birthday.

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Drew’s Facebook Profile picture.

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Drew at 21st Amendment.

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Drew in a Jayne hat — from Firefly — with his wife, Aymee. (NOTE: All photos purloined from Facebook.)

Patent No. 1581918A: Production Of Fermentable Worts

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Today in 1926, US Patent 1581918 A was issued, an invention of William Hastings Campbell, for his “Production of Fermentable Worts.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that “This invention relates to the production of fermentable worts, the production of industrial alcohol and the cultivation of yeast, and has for its object to provide improvements therein.” Here’s a bit more.

The invention consists broadly in the process of producing fermentable worts and the cultivation of yeast which comprises introducing the liquor component of the wort and the solid material from which the fermentable bodies are derived into apparatus in which a plurality of superimposed inclinable diaphragms are arranged, allowing the solid material to settle on the diaphragms, withdrawing the wort and discharging the solid material from the apparatus after a suitable washing operation to extract the soluble bodies mechanically held thereby.

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The Portland Cuckoo Clock

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This post is just a bit of fun, especially if you love clocks and are intrigued by anything to do with time. This was the first time, I got to see the Portland is Happening Now cuckoo clock that was installed at Portland International Airport (PDX) in December of last year, and it is a sight to behold.

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It’s only going to be there through this fall, so if you have a chance to go through PDX, be sure to stop and stare at it for at least a few minutes in a zen-like trance. It’s 24-feet tall and weighs 7,000 pounds, which makes it the largest free-standing cuckoo clock in the United States. It was made by Nicolas Gros, and the clock was carved by native Oregon sculptor J. Chester Armstrong.

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The actual cuckoo is a rooster, but you only see him once per hour. There are, however, numerous symbols associated with Oregon, and that means beer, too. One of the twelve symbols on the gear on the clock face is a beer glass with “You’re Welcome” printed on it.

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But I’m especially keen on the two Blue Jays drinking from a mug of beer that cycles around the two doors on either side of the bottom of the clock face. It’s a curious choice, since Blue Jays aren’t native to Oregon, or anywhere on the west coast for that matter. But they’re one of my favorite birds and I grew up with them in Pennsylvania. There’s also a lot of other very cool Oregon things, like Bigfoot and bicycles, and of course a man riding a beer barrel holding a glass of beer out in joy and celebration, a smile across his face. That’s Oregon, but especially Portland.

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