Wheelin’ & Dealin’ In the Hops Spot Market

Once in a while an idea strikes a brewer and the hops they have in that idea isn’t in the brewery’s arsenal. Perhaps its not in stock on the spot market, but there are still ways to make it happen.

“Every so often, it happens that we need to grab hops from another local brewery to keep a beer moving through,” said Dave Sippel, the Director of Brewing Operations for Michigan’s Arcadia Ales. “In Kalamazoo, we’re fortunate to have a tight network of local breweries that are all willing to help out one another. It’s usually just a quick text or phone call and one of our other local breweries can get us out of a jam.”

Arcadia happens to be long on a number of our contracts as well, so it’s usually pretty easy for the brewery to repay the favor and just trade one variety for another.

ArcadiaBottles 800x300

“We only buy hops on the spot market if there’s something new or specific that we want to play with,” Sippel said.

Same goes for Madison, Wisconsin’s Ale Asylum.

“We buy hops on spot when we are trying to experiment with a new variety,” said head brewer Chris Riphenburg. “We have also bought hops on spot when our contract ran out before our new contract was able to provide us with more. [We’ve] had to borrow hops from other breweries when a shipment was delayed due to bad weather.”

Mixing things up amongst hop varietals is a possibility as well. Riphenburg shared the story that in hop shortage of 2007 the brewery wasn’t able to get additional Cascades on the spot market.

“So we decided to use a combination of Ahtanum, Centennial, and Cascade to get through until we were able to buy more,” he said, noting that Centennial, Cascade, Columbus, Chinook, Ahtanum, and Nugget can be swapped in and out without making a major change to the recipe.

A complete list of hop brokers are readily available for most any brewery in various publications and online.

“We have also gotten to know different hop brokers through other breweries,” Riphenburg said. “The right broker is the one that provides you with fair pricing and the highest quality hops.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.