A month ago, The Wall Street Journal wrote about the possibility that hop prices could sky rocket and how that was (potentially) going to hurt the small craft breweries across the country. The hops doomsday scenario, we called it. That blog post was retweeted and shared a bunch by brewers that seemed to be in agreement that hop prices were going up, and that an increase of that magnitude would not be a good thing.
But there were some that e-mailed in saying they felt the issue was overblown, at least within their business model. One perspective particularly stood out, and we wanted to share that here.
“We are a very Micro start-up, (1 BBL ) and know that we have a long road in front of us. Our beliefs and policies are sure to be tested in the marketplace. However, I’ve worked in the Natural/Organic food industry for over 16 years and model our business on much of what I’ve learned within.
“We at Driftless Brewing Co. love this industry and beer. Homebrewer since 1988 with some formal brew education at UWMadison. I am one of the owners and brewer. The other is my good friend and neighbor, Michael Varnes-Epstein. Cynthia Olmstead is our operations manager.
“We’ve been working on this brewery since late 2009 with licensing in Jan. of 2013. We moved to a new location in March of this year, in an older passive solar, defunct grocery store. Cool building. Location is in “the Grove” as the old timers call Soldiers Grove (interesting history) on the Kickapoo river.
“My response was somewhat knee-jerk but, despite our size we feel we have a good formula and that with proper management we can support the higher pricing mentioned in the article.
“We are working toward a 15-bbl, employee-owned, living wage, local sourcing, traditional brewery.
Our support of the local leads us to avoid using trendy and trademarked ingredients. No extracts. No GMOs. No BS. Organic where and when we can.
“The honey we source is from my friend’s organic farm down that we help in the harvest. Local fruits, berries and herbs are all from farm friends. Beautiful water from our own well. The exclusive use of only local ingredients, we believe, not only supports our local economy, but also gives our beer “terroir” the taste of the Driftless.
“We have been paying an average of $15/pound [for hops]. Although we cannot predict the future, we will do and pay what it takes to support local agriculture. We can do this and be successful.
“We believe that if we and other Wisconsin breweries grow and support local agriculture, the number of hop growers will increase here. Barley growers are testing the scene too.”
Driftless Brewing Co. LLC
Obviously, not the perspective of every craft brewing business out there, but an interesting viewpoint. The craft brewing industry takes all kinds, and we thank Balistreri for sending in his thoughts. If you have some thoughts of your own, don’t hesitate to comment below this post, tweet us or e-mail me at [email protected].