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The growing season is high and the weather is affecting crops

Our Journey

A question was recently raised as to whether the craft brewing industry may see a hit this year when it comes to purchasing necessary ingredients. With the weather making its usual Spring/Early Summer fuss of bi-polar proportions, this is a pretty serious question. So far, most commercial growers do not seem to have been hit too hard with the torrential downpours that this lion-style spring has presented. However, there are some areas that have seen some terrible flooding due to the wet weather of Spring, and yes, that really could affect those craft breweries who source their ingredients in those areas.

What does this mean for the craft brewing industry?

In some areas, it means very little. Where the weather is steady, the crops have been growing as they always do. However, the industry will likely show a bit of a profit loss in areas where the weather has been tumultuous, such as Missouri, Illinois, and the like. Perhaps you noted the stories on the news about the epic flooding that recently happened near St. Louis, Missouri. If you did, you would have seen the massive devastation as flood waters took over both agricultural and residential areas in the region, placing them under several feet of debilitating wetness.

This type of weather causes large-scale loss of crops, which results in local craft breweries having to outsource their ingredients, rather than buying locally as they are want to do on average. While that may not seem like such a bad thing, it means those breweries are going to have more overhead due to shipping costs and higher prices for their ingredients. The end result can be higher prices at the taps, on the shelves, and by the growler, though many craft breweries elect to simply eat the cost, which later shows in a profit loss for the region.

Wait, you mean my beer might cost more?

Indeed, that may be the case if you are in an area where the weather is causing crop loss that affects your local craft brewery. The question is whether or not you are willing to pony up the slightly higher prices in order to obtain the great craft beers that you love. While many folks get upset with their taprooms over the higher prices needed to cover overhead costs, the simple fact is that it is not the breweries’ faults. If you must shake your fist in defiance, do so at Mother Nature and the ever-changing weather, not at your local brewery.

There are several crops that are being affected by the odd weather patterns including:

  • Barley
  • Wheat
  • Hops
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Sorghum

While not all of these crops may be used by your local craft brewery, each plays an important part in the brewing industry as a whole. This ends up reflected in the end-of-year reports and when crops are damaged by the weather or any other event, the resulting losses create higher expenses, lower profits, and in some cases, heavily reduced production. For example, large-scale loss of hops would create a shortage, resulting in lower production rates due to lack of supply.

Has the weather started to affect the breweries in your area? Leave us a comment and let us know about any breweries you’ve seen affected by these losses. We enjoy hearing from our readers and would appreciate your comments on the conditions in your area. Here at West Palm Beach Brewery and Wine Vault, we are working hard to get ready for our own opening later this year and are also keeping up with current issues, so knowing what your area is experiencing is important to us. In the meantime, from all of us, happy tasting!


May 31, 2017