Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ale Gore

We’re working on putting out our next beer, specifically, an Ale. Saying that isn’t being that specific at all, and when beginning the process of conceptualizing the ale, we felt like there were many directions we could take this beer. Brewers have a good selection of tools to make beer unique and varied; hop variety, barley variety, yeast, quantities used, and length of process during certain stages of the brewing process, etc.

Our first year of business happened to coincide with a great
hop shortage (as in you can’t find them) and an increase in all of our raw material costs. I’m not talking about a little spike that nips at margin, but 300-500% increase in hop costs and a heavy increase in the cost of malted barley. All this means that we have access to a much smaller array of hops that we can find and afford. No complaints, this is business and flexibility is necessary no matter what you do.

You might ask, “Where are all the hops?” The answer is complex and involves hop farmers cashing out to real estate developers, a large fire in a hop storage facility, and weather damage around the world. All these things will correct themselves; more farmers will plant hops because of the agronomic value, hopefully another fire won’t ravage so much of future yields, but this weather damage is unsettling.

Being a new business owner I find myself speaking with other business owners about what they do. I find that pretty much everyone is experiencing some sort of raw material or fundamental increase that’s chapping his or her ass. The fact that global climate is wacky isn’t a new idea. Al Gore’s been on the topic for a long time and his current foray into motion pictures helped to gain the issue some broad exposure.

I’m not Al Gore, not a
meteorologist, scientist of any kind and have no education that would make me an authority on weather / global phenomenon, but I think things are a getting increasingly strange. I hear startling facts all the time. I come from a very small town along the Delaware River, and there is a 100-year flood plain. So people can assume that their home might get filled with water every 100 years. They’ve been flooded three times in the last 4 years. You hear all the time about places that used to have lakes and now they don’t. Places that used to snow don’t snow anymore. Snow comes where it didn’t. Hurricanes, Tsunami’s……

I feel like we’re on the verge of experiencing weather phenomenon that hasn’t happened yet. Earthquakes that shoot inner earth muck through the cracks they create. Raining sand. Waves of molten lava rushing our shores. I don’t know, but natures imagination is much more fantastic and destructive than mine.

I don’t know what the upcoming years have in store for hop farming or weather, but I hope to find some
Centennial Hops that are affordable. I also hope that fire doesn’t blow through the air, etc. Either way, we brewed for the Ale today and hope that this batch comes out delicious. Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to try it out in the world sometime soon.

Half Acre Beer Co
Chicago, IL

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