There is a crop failure right now that could impact everyone who enjoys a flavorful after-work brew: German bittering hops supply is expected to fall below the demand line this harvest.

Source:  Sam Boyer At Insurance Business Mag

And – worst case scenario – that could mean fewer tasty suds for those who enjoy their beer.


Bittering hops are the hops that give beer its’ refreshing bitter taste and they’re currently not faring well in Germany, the largest bittering hops producer in the world.

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For Canadian craft brewers, even those with insurance, it could mean bad news. It may spell a threat to the beers they’re able to produce this season. As things stand, insurance for boutique brewers doesn’t usually cover production disruption from ingredient shortage – which could, of course, flow-on to the consumer.

We’re going to be insuring the facility, where the beer is brewed. If anything happens to the facility … if there’s a fire, [for example], there are possibilities to make claims,” said Scott Preston, commercial lines manager at Seafirst Insurance Brokers in Brentwood Bay, BC. But no such luck for international crop failures, he said, even if the supply chain gets disrupted and results in worse or fewer end products.

Many craft brewers specialize in beers with powerful flavours and aromas. And with the rise in craft beer popularity, many hops farmers in the United States have switched aroma hops crops to satisfy the emerging market’s appetite. This crop-switch has led to declining bittering hops availability. With German farmers suffering through droughts and hail storms this year, the accumulated inventory’s about to run dry. In fact, the supply has just about been all drunk up, according a recent Financial Times report.

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So Canadian craft breweries could – potentially – face the pinch.

When you’re seeing things in other parts of the world, unfortunately there’s no Canadian coverage for that. [So that’s when] the factors of supply and demand come into effect,” Preston said.

Although some, but not many, Canadian craft breweries grow their own hops, international hops supply remains a gap in available coverage. Most brewery policies might include coverage for property and equipment, business interruption, product recall, and auto.

Seafirst also offers something call “key man insurance” for loss of time and income if a brewmaster is lost unexpectedly.

Because a brewmaster has specialized skills that are hard to replace quickly, it’s important for a brewery to be insured in case its brewmaster dies or is incapacitated, even temporarily,” Preston remarked.

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