Hops force brewer’s price hike

4 Pines Brewing Company has attributed a moderate price increase on kegs of its flagship Pale Ale to rising prices for Citra hops.

Increasing demand for American hops and significantly lower yields has caused major global hop shortages over the last few years, 4 Pines told customers in a memorandum last week.

“American hop growers continue to increase their prices and although we have absorbed these increasing costs over the last few years, it is now a business necessity to increase the price of our American Style Pale Ale to reflect this,” the brewer said.

The Pale Ale’s all-American hop bill also comprises Cascade, Simcoe and Amarillo, but 4 Pines said the Citra variety was the main culprit in forcing a $10 price rise to its Pale Ale kegs, which now sell for $262 plus GST.

If publicans opted to pass the entire price increase on to consumers, it would equate to about 8c a schooner.

“We believe our beers are still very competitively priced for good quality independently owned Australian craft beer,” 4 Pines said.

No chance we’d substitute Citra
As well as hop growers increasing their prices, the vastly weakened Australian dollar had also impacted the price of US hops, 4 Pines general manager Jaron Mitchell told Australian Brews News.

However, he said the company would never consider replacing Citra with a less expensive hop variety.

“We were one of the first brewers in the country to be using Citra and I honestly believe that is what’s made our Pale Ale our Pale Ale,” said Mitchell.

“I think if we started substituting for cheaper ingredients, we then undermine the whole principle of why we first got into this industry – that we were sick of the boring bland beer that over forty years had been homogenised and commoditised.”

Mitchell said 4 Pines has contracts in place with local suppliers who have also absorbed their fair share of price increases from US growers.

However, to ensure adequate supply for the Pale Ale, the company is forced to supplement these contracts with hops sourced at a premium from other suppliers on the spot market.

He said 4 Pines has opted against a case price increase for the Pale Ale at this stage.

“It’s a relatively smaller chunk that we can swallow for now – it’s 7.92 litres versus 50 litres.”

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