Note: I started writing this piece on Saturday afternoon after stopping by Midwest. My visit to Midwest, coupled with a visit with Dale from Lake Superior Brewing Co. the weekend before (not to mention conversations with other brewers) reminded me just how important it is – now more than ever – to support your local breweries, brewpubs and homebrew shops. Seeing this article in the Pioneer Press was refreshing – people need to know that this is a big deal.
MNBeer readers are a mixed bag, so for some of you, this comes as news and others are all-too-aware of the hop shortage that is affecting breweries, brewpubs, homebrew shops and homebrewers. A weekend visit to Midwest Supplies found their normally-full freezers fairly picked over. The same thing is happening with our favorite varieties over in St. Paul at Northern Brewer as well. Prices on bulk hops for homebrewers from sources such as HopsDirect and Freshops have (or will) rise significantly. Less acreage (or yield, for that matter) = less hops. It’s bad. Homebrew shops have been forced to limit the number of hops that they sell to individuals. Newer and smaller breweries are scrambling to find hops. I’ve even heard stories of larger breweries outside of Minnesota that will be using 3-4 year old hops this year.
Malt prices are on the rise as well. The outlook for beer isn’t as rosy as one might like it to be, and as much as I hate to say it, some of the little guys will likely get pushed out of the business before this all settles out.
So what do we do?
Support your local.
Nearly a year ago, I attempted to limit my craft brew intake to Minnesota beers and to whatever might be local when I traveled outside of Minnesota. I was largely successful barring the occasional Belgian brew or domestic micro. In light of everything, I’m planning on trying this again and I’m hoping that some of you will join me as well. It is my sincere wish that not a single Minnesota brewpub, microbrewery or homebrew shop bites the dust. And though I can occasionally drink for two (my liver disagrees), in order to make even the slightest difference, I can’t be the only one doing this.
Drink Minnesota beer. Keep Minnesota brewing. We’ve got some great beer here in Minnesota and I’d like it to stay that way. If you must drink beer from outside of Minnesota, please drink beer from regional and microbreweries and drink it in places that support (Minnesota) craft brewing… bars such as the Blue Nile, Buster’s, Acadia Cafe, Stub and Herb’s, the Muddy Pig, etc., etc.
The people that run and work in the homebrew shops, breweries, brewpubs and local bars are our friends as well as our gateway to quality fermented beverages. Let’s treat them well and thank them for all of the work they’ve done to bring great craft beer to Minnesota. Drink Minnesota beer.
Let’s keep our locals strong! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll finish my pint of Summit Winter and go to bed.
Drink locally, drink early, drink often!