In interest of full disclosure, I am not a beer drinker — I hate the stuff. I’d love to be one of those chicks who swigs beer from the bottle, but I’m not. Because beer is yucky.
I do, however, live in a part of the world (Loudoun County, Virginia) where craft brews are HOT. So hot, in fact, that two new craft brew pubs have opened in my town in just the last week. And I know that it’s all about the hops. A local brewer even opened a hops-processing facility to support the local beverage industry.
Beers apparently live or die by the hops.
Sadly, it sounds like some beers are about to die because they won’t have access to the hops used in their recipes. Anheuser-Busch InBev is the largest beer producer in the world. As such, they have cornered the market on South African hops, and, until now, were willing to sell those hops to any comers. Not anymore.
From now on, AB InBev will only make South African hops available to brands it owns. Independent brewers are SOL if they need a specific variety of hops from that part of the world.
Yes, you guessed it, people are hoppin’ mad.
It didn’t take long for the anti-“Big Beer” narrative to take shape among beer communities like Beer Advocate. By flexing its financial muscles and limiting the sale of South African hops to brands already under its control, many beer hobbyists say that AB InBev is assuming the role of the schoolyard bully, using its power and payroll to disadvantage the scrappy underdogs.
AB InBev has said their decision was the results of a low crop yields in South Africa.
Some beer lovers are calling for a boycott of Anheuser-Busch, others are waiting to see what will happen with their favorite craft beer, and still others are just happily sipping their Natty Lights.