While demand might be outpacing supply, there isn’t a per se hop shortage. As we’ve mentioned before, there more is a Citra shortage that may keep smaller brewers from being able to make variations of some of the more popular IPAs. The upside is that they have to be creative and bring other styles to the fore. The downside is that some may have to take real chances and may end up with less-than-great beer.
As it turns out, though, new hops are under development all the time. While that might not be a huge secret, what is fascinating is that the expansion of craft breweries has led to bolder experimentation in the hop growing community. Smaller brewers have a larger say in which hops make it through the development stage in ways that just weren’t possible for them before. And that is where things get a little exciting.
According to this BeerandBrewing.com article there are at least 100 new hop varietals under development. Many of them likely are being cultivated as double duty hops that are both useful in bittering and aromatic, but the possibilities literally are endless. People are brewing with those hopes today to see what they can do. It’s a matter of being creative and also open. Moreover, though, it is a matter of being confident enough in your own beer sensibilities to recognize the difference between something that tastes bad and something that tastes radically different from what you have come to expect.
On last week’s Beer with Strangers podcast, Doug Griffith talked about the rise of the current popular hops as being fueled by an actual crop failure while demand skyrocketed. That was before the craft brewing industry really heated up, and that’s what makes this a really exciting prospect. The future of beer tastes and diversity will be a partnership between really skilled brewers and an army of educated beer drinkers that probably is unmatched in history. Even people who claim to hate craft beer can describe what they hate about it in words that simply weren’t available to them 20 years ago.
In the next decade or so, as a greater number of more diverse hops breaks open the taste game, all of us will have the opportunity to find even more beers we like. Forgotten styles already are on the rise and there’s no reason for that not to continue with increasing variations. It’s really only the beginning of a very exciting time to be a craft beer lover.
Drink what you like and be happy.