Alaskan Brewing announced that it will no longer offer its Alaskan Pale as a year-round release. The decision to cease production of this beloved beer was forced by the dwindling availability of the key hops required for the Golden Ale’s unique taste.
“The U.S. Tettnanger hops availability, consistency and quality had started to become an ongoing issue for the past several years,” said David Wilson, quality assurance manager at Alaskan Brewing. “With most hop varieties we are able to order based on the characteristics we are looking for in the taste and aroma, but because so few farmers are growing this hop, we have had a hard time coming up with the consistency we need to brew Alaskan Pale year-round.”
Alaskan Pale is a Golden Ale, but in 1987 was called Pale to offer a contrast to the only other year-round brew Alaskan was producing at the time, Alaskan Amber. The Alaskan Pale has built a loyal following through the years, particularly in Alaska, and has won multiple awards for its unique and delicate flavor.
Alaskan Brewery distributors report that there is just about a month’s supply left of the Pale, so they recommend stocking up now. There is no direct replacement for the Pale planned in Alaskan’s product line, although the Brew Crew continues to experiment with all types of beers, including Golden Ales.
“We are always experimenting with different recipes, and we would love to find a similar flavor profile to the Alaskan Pale as many of us will miss this beer tremendously,” said Marcy Larson, brewery co-founder. “But we wanted to be honest in that without those specific hops, it will not be the same beer.”
In our hops-focused feature story, Matt Hollingbery of Hollingbery and Sons Inc. told us that he saw brewers moving out of proprietary hop varieties and into more traditional, readily-available hops. The craft brewing industry is no stranger to hops shortages. Not only does mother nature play a role, but demand for certain hops can drive stock down and prices up as more craft brewers enter the market.
Brewers looking to avoid a hop shortage may want to work out a long-term contract for a percentage of their estimated hops needs for the year. A long-term contract, like a three-year supplier deal, simply guarantees that a brewery will have a continual supply of hops throughout the year, even if the contract is for half the estimated volume of hops. For more hops market trends and tips, be sure to check out our Growing Hops Trends feature story.