The CASE of the ROTTEN HOPS
Times are tough in the hops business. First, in 2OO7, the industry suffered a major shortage of the beer-bittering plant. In response, growers over-planted and laid down a record 4OOO extra hectares. Then the economy tanked. Now there are an estimated 5OO acres of hops that have gone un-harvested in the US this year. In Germany, the world’s biggest hop-growing country, 1OOO hectares were planted in 2OO8, while China, the world’s number three in the hop-producing stakes, also laid down an additional 1OOO hectares. Hop Growers of America reported that 12 of the 2O hop-growing countries in the world upped acreage in response to the shortage of 2OO7. But as supply increased, global demand for beer plummeted due to the recession and brewers increased efficiency by using isomerised hop products. This combination led to the current situation of oversupply. Since growers can’t recoup their harvesting costs, the crops are simply going rotten. If only hops could be turned into fuel.