I wrote about shortages and rising prices of hops and malts a few months ago. Well, the hard times have finally hit me – yes, me, the lowly home brewer. I went to go pick up ingredients for my next batch (a rye pale ale that I call Reeb) yesterday, and I was planning on picking up ingredients for two batches. I have a recipe for a Double IPA that uses the same yeast as the Reeb (Wyeast 1272). So my plan was to cook up the small beer first, and then cook up the big beer in a couple of weeks and rack the big beer right onto the yeast cake of the small one. That will not only save money on yeast, but it will also insure there is a big, healthy pitch of yeast to ferment the big beer.

My small beer requires 2.5 ounces of hops, 0.5 ounce of which I already have in my fridge – left-over Chinook. The Double IPA calls for six ounces of hops – all high-alpha hops, too. When I took eight ounces of hops up to the counter, Doug politely informed me that there is a three ounce per recipe limit. I was hoping this was a financial thing – perhaps his costs went up, and he felt he would alienate his customers by raising his prices to cover his costs, so he was simply limiting the amount of low-or-negative margin goods he was selling. So I offered to pay more for the hops than he was asking. He said he still couldn’t do it, and then he told me why. His primary supplier has completely cut him off; they have no hops available to sell to him. Another supplier of his said they only have another nine weeks of supply for him. That means in nine weeks, he will have no supply of hops for his customers. He had calculated that, at the rate he usually sells hops, that he would completely run out by May. Upon hearing that distressing news, I changed my brewing plans. I figure I’ll just make the big beer another day (maybe I can find an online supplier that is willing to sell large quantities of hops – although it is completely possible that the online shops are encountering similar situations). And, instead of buying the two ounces of hops I needed for Reeb, I figured I’d just use more of the other left-over hops in my fridge and so only bought one.

What a bummer!!!

So it looks like I’ll have to stick with brewing low-hop recipes for the foreseeable future. That is certainly depressing because I was really wanting to cook up an IPA or two. The fact that I can’t make the Double IPA anytime soon is certainly a let-down.