In Weyerbacher's latest newsletter, owner Dan Weirback writes about the impending rise in costs of both barley and hops, and asks us craft beer drinkers to help weather the storm. Barley prices are on the rise because it is now more profitable for farmers to plant corn for ethanol production than it is to plant barley. Hops have increased in demand, and hop growers are having trouble keeping up. Brewers that do not have long term contracts may find themselves unable to purchase specific types of hops. This could be the biggest hurdle for the craft beer industry since it first began to blossom over three decades ago. There was an initial craft boom in the early nineties, but unfortunately the market become flooded with people who were more interested in the bottom line than they were in good beer, and the craft beer scene slowed considerably until its recent rise again over the past ten years or so. How will the craft beer industry cope with this latest crisis?
Well the answer is pretty simple. Keep buying craft beer. In relation to wine, craft beer is still a heck of a deal. A good bottle of wine can cost 20 dollars and up for a 750 ml bottle (roughly 25 ounces). A six pack of your favorite craft beer is still going to be well worth the possible 2 dollar or so price hike. If the upward trend in craft beer is to continue, consumers are going to have to be willing to pay a higher price point. I would argue that it is worth it. Craft brewers are artists, chefs, and scientists. They take pride in the recipes they create, and it is an historic tradition that dates back several millennia. As craft brewers face escalating costs it is even more important that you show your support, especially with local brewers who are your neighbors, your friends, and tax paying businesses. They need your support now more than ever. Can you imagine going back to a beer scene that is solely dominated by 3 multinational brewers? I shudder at the thought. So, if you walk into your favorite beer store and notice a price increase, I implore you to say to yourself, 'it is worth it'. Because it is.