Pouring a beer
Life is too short for cheap beer, but higher beer prices won’t make your life any longer, it just seems that way. The cost of malt and hops is going up, forcing brewers to raise their prices. The distributors pass the increased cost on to stores which then pass it on to you and me.

A worldwide hops shortage has driven the price of hops up as much as ten times, from 3-5 bucks a pound to between $30 and $40 per pound. It’s hard for brewers, particularly small ones, to absorb that kind of increase.

I personally haven’t noticed an increase prices but cost is one of the last things I consider when buying beer. To me a good beer is worth exponentially more than the difference in price for a cheap beer. I would rather drink one good beer that costs $1.50 for a bottle than 3 cheap beers that cost 50 cents a can. But that’s just me.

The Coloradoan points out that even if prices are going up, they still aren’t that bad. Beer may cost around $1.50 for 12 ozs, but how much did you pay for that White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks? Or that bottled water you bought in the office vending machine, for that matter?

If the prices are really getting you down, there is an alternative: brew your own. I got tired of paying 3 or 4 bucks for a latte so I got an espresso machine and now I make my own lattes. They taste better than most coffee house lattes because I make them exactly the way I like them. I’ve started brewing my own beer, too. There is a little bit of cost up front but once you make the investment, you can brew for years with the same equipment. If you brew with grains, instead of malt extract, the savings are substantial. You can buy the grain, hops, and yeast for a 5 gallon batch of beer for around $20-$25. You typically get about 50 12oz bottles out of a batch which means your cost is less than 50 cents per bottle! Now that’s a bargain!

4 comments

  1. Ouch. Why are hops in short supply? Has there been a drought or serious crop failure somewhere? I wonder if hops would grow well in Alabama….I know that the plant has some ornamental value as a potted specimen. I’ve seen them in catalogues. I think I’ll check to see what the yield is per plant…..may be a worthwhile endeavor to attempt to grow here for commercial purposes or for private home-brewers. Lots to think about.

  2. Because so many farmers are switching to corn to meet the biofuel demand, the price of hops and grains has gone up significantly in the past year. A crop-killing freeze in Europe has exacerbated the problem.

    Growing your own hops is definitely an option. You can find some info at http://www.byo.com/feature/116.html or just google it.

    The Pacific Northwest is the best region for growing hops but “There is historical record of hops being grown at one time or another in every state in the union…”

  3. Speaking with the brewer at Pizza Port in Solana Beach, CA… There is not only a shortage due to drought in the major hops growing regions, but there was a major fire at the largest hop warehouse in the Northwest back in late 2006 that is now just starting to hit market prices today. I’m waiting for that price smackdown to hit me at my local home brew supply store.

    And I’m waiting for the inflated cost of malt to hit soon, as well. Sigh… But it is still worth the cost, time and effort in brewing your own.

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