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A Modest Proposal to Solve the Great Hops Shortage of 2014

Scott Lucas | May 15, 2014 | Story Clubs and Bars

You may not have realized it, but California is deep into a major crisis. It's not the drought, or even the Armageddon-level fires down south. It's a lack of hops. You know—hops. Those bitter little dudes that beer brewers throw into their vats that turn drinking some of the world's finest beers such a face-puckering chore. We're sorry, we mean, such an exalted experience.

Well, they aren't enough of them to go around. That's according to Vox, which reports today that the price of hops has surged from $7 a pound to $10—with no signs of coming down. What's fueling the increase is a boom in the number of new craft breweries. They're opening at a faster rate than hops farmers—hoppers?—can keep up with. In California alone, there are now 363 breweries.

So does that mean that you're going to have start paying more for your quintuple IPAs and Mikkeller 1000 IBUs? Maybe. Or if we're lucky, brewers could take a hint, and try giving us a drink that falls somewhere on the spectrum between a Bud Light and getting punched in the face? Besides, we all know by now that after a certain point, we can't taste the extra bitterness in beer. And that big hops flavor—while nice—can often be used as a crutch.

Sure, you need to throw some hops in your beer. But not every style needs to have eight separate hops additions the way that Pliny the Younger does. So there's an easy solution here. Nobody likes that much bitterness. Instead, let's heft a glass of 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon or Pyramid's Apricot Ale. There's nothing wrong with a little fruit, after all.

Those are so nice to drink we might even have two or three of them. It's not like we're going to drink water.

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