“It’s time to switch to whisky we’ve been drinking beer all night”
It’s a global emergency! When I first heard those words I thought, oh great another one. It’s almost sad how global emergencies just don’t seem to hold any mustard anymore. That said, this one is sure to gain some attention since it will affect a key ingredient that many of us use to deal with the depressing amount of global emergencies.
There is a critical shortage of hops on planet earth.
Hops is of course a key (and my personal favorite) ingredient in that most delicious of social lubricants, beer. Beer shortage? Now that got your attention. You heard right, due to many chronic and acute issues there is now a drastic shortage of hops.
The recent problems have been drastically changing weather behaviors and a warehouse fire. But the nail in this particular coffin is corn. Ever since the ethanol fuel craze many farmers have switched their crop. You can’t blame them since it grows in a year and there is definitely a demand, but there’s no balance. Especially when you consider hops takes three years to grow a suitable crop.
Sadly, in our staggeringly stupid North American ways we’ve somehow come to think destroying all our farmland is a good idea since food doesn’t come from farms, it comes from grocery stores. With that in mind we need only look to the Fraser Valley where some of the most ideal farm land in the country has been converted to better cash crops such as condo’s, corn and churches.
Of course, like most disasters the hardest hit will be the little guy, in this case the rapidly exploding micro-brew industry. Locally, our own Howe Sound Brew Pub had to go overseas, pay five times the average price, and practically win the lottery to get their hands on one of the last shipments.
And thank heavens they did because for those who didn’t know, in the last year our little brew pub has achieved some remarkable things. Like any new businesses there are ups and there are downs, the Brew pub experiencing their share of both over the last eleven years. But with Franco Corno at the brewers helm with Fabian Specht, this last year of consistently fantastic beers has made that little building at the dead end of downtown become one of North America’s most renowned micro-breweries. Crazy eh? Plus they’re winning awards out the ying-yang and people all over the country as well as in the states are clamoring to stock their new brews.
So since Squamish’s first industry was hop farming I’m thinking perhaps it’s time for us to kick it old school and bring back the local hops. Perhaps we can take advantage of the shortage in the next few years while the market balances itself out with the new price scheme.
Oh yeah, and the scariest part of all this… barley farmers appear to be on the brink of the same situation. Gulp.