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Hop shortage to squeeze craft beer boom

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 01:34

Fans of craft beers could soon face higher bar bills as small, independent brewers face a potentially serious shortage of a vital ingredient: hops. As Julian satterthwaite reports, last summer's hot, dry weather blighted the European hop harvest.

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Hidden away under a pub outside London, this is what the craft beer revolution looks like. Tiny brewers turning out quirky ales and grabbing market share worldwide. About one in eight of all beers served in the US last year. But the brews might be about to get a whole lot more expensive as a key ingredient runs short. Hops - the dried flowers that give beer its flavour. Fashionable pale ales can use four times the usual amount of hops. And farmers can't keep up. Caveman Brewery founder James Hayward says the prices he pays have jumped fifty percent in two years. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CAVEMAN BREWERY FOUNDER, JAMES HAYWARD SAYING: 'The last couple of years you'll contract X amount, and then you'll get told 'well we can only give you sixty percent of that. So, planning is difficult. You end up having to design beers around the fact you might not get the hops you need to get.' Hops are grown around the world in numerous varieties, in places like this. Farmer Tony Redsell has been growing hops since 1948. Right now he's enjoying the good times. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FARMER, TONY REDSELL SAYING: 'It's a perennial root and it's expensive to produce a crop so you need contracts going forwards and at the moment it's quite easy quite easy to get them. I've got contracts going forwards to 2020.' Back at the brewery, Hayward might have a solution - beer made without hops. Lime leaves among the alternative ingredients in his latest brews. The drinkers upstairs just hoping that higher prices don't leave a sour aftertaste.

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Hop shortage to squeeze craft beer boom

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 01:34