Just as the country has finally re-embraced carbs after the whole Atkins nightmare, now we’re all going to be forced onto low-carb diets by rising food prices. First, wheat. There’s the worldwide rice shortage that will soon be seriously affecting us. Now beer prices are increasing because of the scarcity of hops and barley.
Two ingredients — hops and malted barley — are behind much of the price increases.
Hops produce the chemicals that give beer its distinct flavor. Some varieties are used to bitter the drink. Others impart its floral aromas. Most commercially grown domestic hops come from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
After water, malted barely is the next-biggest ingredient in beer. It provides the sugars that turns into alcohol when the beer is fermented.
Barley prices have risen because of worldwide demand for grains, including wheat, corn and rice. Philip Sutton, owner of Skyscraper Brewing Co., a small brewery in El Monte, said the price of a 50-pound bag of malted barley had jumped to $22, or 57% higher than a year ago.
Hops prices are soaring even more. Sutton paid $3.40 to $4.70 a pound for hops a year ago. The least expensive hops he has found this year were $12.63 a pound, and he’s paid all the way up to $22.45. But that’s only if he can find them.
“The hops that we like to use just aren’t available,” Sutton said. That has forced him to substitute other hops in some of his beer recipes “and that makes a different beer. It’s still good but isn’t what we would ideally have,” said Sutton, who has raised his prices 20% to 30%.
Ugh. A life with no carbs is … not one we really want to contemplate. We’d try crying in our beer, but it looks like soon that too will be a budget-breaker.
Rising beer prices hard to swallow [Los Angeles Times]
Asia limits rice exports as prices and uncertainty rise [Christian Science Monitor]
Photo, of barley: Shandchem [Flickr]