Just got off the phone with Hop Union, to learn they were out of Warrior hops. I use this in my IPA for Both bittering and a small amount in the aroma. Has anyone had to replace there Warrior hops this year? If so what did you use and could anyone really pick up on the difference?Thanks
I also had to change my IPA recipe because HopUnion ran out of Warrior and Columbus. I have been using Nugget and/or Galena as substitutions. The bittering hop addition didn't change the profile very much but I have had trouble getting a good dry hop combination. Luckily, I work in a small brewpub and people are used to minor changes from batch to batch. I guess what we have learned from this is to buy in much larger quantities next season.
Actually, jsut contract them. HopUnion does it as well as Brewers Supply Group. Others I'm sure. Tell them what you might use and then pay as they ship them too you. It you don't use them all, you have to pay for them all BUT, with a shortage of some varieties, I have found that you can just ask them to be released and if they have buyers, they would be more than happy to do that.
As a little guy, you don't always get first dibs, but can still contract just like the big brewers. Why not, I say. It beats running out-especially if oyu don't want to scramble for substitutes all summer until next harvest.
FWIW, they are contracting 07 crop and beyond right now.
Columbus, Tomahawk, and Zeus are other American super alpha varieties that can be subbed, but as others have posted, these are in short supply. Magnum or Horizon may also work for just bittering. A lot of CTZ hops were lost in a fire in Yakima last Fall.
Kyle asked about substitutions for Warrior. If you look at our website it is noted the best ones would be Columbus or Nugget. Nugget would be closer and we did get a few back into inventory last week. Another hop one could try would be the Magnum. Always keep in mind these are substutions and aren't the real thing. Often we are out of a hop variety, but sometimes be sure and check back periodically as we do either find some more or is often the case,w e can get some back from a brewer who bought too many. This year the demand continues to soar, but acreage will not keep the pace. The result is many hops are sold out. One thing I see when times are tight like these is that brewers can compound the problem by buying more than they need because of the fear of running out. Don't want to make light the tight market, but again we often are able to restock at least to a small degree many hops thoughout the year.
Warrior and high alpha hops in general
Since BigWilley has me on a roll and I see all this hop talk, let me say a few words on high alpha hops. Yes there was a fire this Fall at a Steiner warehouse that burned up a good supply of hops of which most were high alpha hops. I see a few comments about this fire and shortages. While this fire did a fair amount to get things started the real problem has to do with declining world acreage. The fire probably consumed 2 million lbs of hops which is a lot of beers, but on a world scale has little influence. In 06 the US produced around 54 million lbs so the fire took out about 4% of the US crop. In 06 the world produced about 179 million lbs of hops so you can see the result of the fire affect supply by around 1% only. Where one of the problems shows itself is in thepoor crop in Europe. Some varieities were only at about 50% normal yeild. This had a much greater affect than the fire. But to really get into the meat of the problem, one has to look at what has happened to world hop ACREAGE. Around 10 years ago the world had about 230,000 acres in production. Last year there were a little more than 113,00 acres. Note that is more than 1/2 gone. What happened in a nutshell was when we were at a peak in the mid 90's there was the beginning of a glut that resulted in pricing below the cost of production. As acres started on a downward trend, excess inventories from previous years continued to keep the market poor in relation to growers getting any good pricing. This past year most of the excess inventories have been sold and at the same time acreage went to a historic low resulting in a big supply problem on a worldwide scale. HIgh alpha hops are ususally sold on a alpha basis and not by the pound. This basis has gone thru the roof as major brewers are having a hard time getting their needs met. I have seen for example the Columbus variety tripling in price to these major guys in the past year. This also puts a lot of pressure on the aroma hops of which I mainly sell. Will be difficult to increase acreage to any great extent because most growers quit the business in dismay because of pricing or their kids went to the larger cities looking for better paying jobs. Few things to think about and no I don't have all the answers to this delima.