Ordered too many hops for that last batch of your pale ale? Or not enough for your next IPA? You could hop on a brewers forum and ask around, but that can be like asking Facebook if anyone has tickets to Hamilton.
Jesse Pappas and the team at Lupulin Exchange (LEx) wanted to create a better way for brewers to trade excess hops, so they did what the folks at AirBnB or Uber or StubHub did: They created a clean, user-friendly online platform where people could list their excess stock and others could purchase it.
Nearing its third year, LEx now boasts more than 4,500 users around the country. The company built the exchange for brewers, but to their surprise hop growers and brokers have started using it, too. This may seem counter intuitive, since LEx does allow smaller brewers to skirt the normal contracts with growers, but it makes more sense when you think about the scenario of a brewer being unable to fulfill their end of the contract. Now the grower is sitting there with all these hops they thought they had a buyer for.
“Growers like BSG will send clients to us to unload those contracted hops,” Pappas said. “They’ll actually ship them from their own facilities directly to the LEx buyer.”
LEx has a very user-friendly interface and a blog that runs the gamut from the expected enthusiastic announcements to wonkish analytics (explained, to be fair, in layman’s terms). Perhaps their most popular feature, however, is their Hop Alerts, which is pretty much what it sounds like. You can subscribe to a specific variety of hop and your phone will tell you when someone has some.
That doesn’t mean some hops aren’t still hard to get; LEx puts out around 150,000 alerts per month, after all. But it at least allows you to stop refreshing the page in hopes of someone suddenly posting Citra.