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Hops Insider: The Search for a Cure … for Hopcontractophobia

There are hops in abundance, but beer sales are unpredictable—it’s no mystery why many small breweries are relying on the spot market. Yet many suppliers are aiming to lure brewers back to more flexible contracts that better suit today’s market.

Stan Hieronymus Jan 15, 2024 - 12 min read

Hops Insider: The Search for a Cure … for Hopcontractophobia Primary Image

A ready supply of Nectaron at McIlhenney Brewing in Alpine, California. Photo: Joe Stange.

Many brewers are hesitant to sign new contracts for hops, and hop suppliers understand why. The two primary reasons:

  • Brewers are still working through excess hops from a previous contract—which may have been overly optimistic, signed before the pandemic that crippled sales.
  • The supply of many hop varieties—including those that were once the most expensive and hard to get—now exceeds demand, and brewers know it. It’s often cheaper to shop on the spot market, and there are plenty of options.

Those reasons are pragmatic and relatable. On the other hand: Supply and demand are out of balance, in part, because contracts that were in place did not accurately reflect demand—and not only because of the pandemic.

That’s why many suppliers recently have been putting together initiatives to strengthen communications with brewers. For instance, Crosby Hops offers a 3,000-word primer on its website titled Hop Contracting Is Changing—Does Your Approach Need To Change With It?

Brewers have more options than they may realize.

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