Last Call: Northwest Hops Acreage at Record Highs

Elk Mountain Farm

Elk Mountain Farm, Idaho

Northwest Hop Acreage Up 16 Percent in 2015

Northwest hop acreage increased 16 percent in 2015, as nearly 44,000 acres have been strung for harvest across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Broken down by state, Washington strung 32,205 acres for harvest this year, accounting for 73 percent of total hops acreage across the United States. Oregon hop growers, meanwhile, are expected to string 6,807 acres (or 16 percent of the total U.S. yield) while Idaho’s industry anticipates stringing 4,975 acres (11 percent). “Acreage increased in all three states from 2014 and, if realized, both Washington and Idaho acres will be at record highs,” per the USDA. Bart Watson, staff economist at the Brewers Association, dug into the data a bit and came up with a list of both emerging and fading hop varieties. Simcoe, Centennial, Citra, Mosaic were the top acreage gainers while Ahtanum, Cluster, Super Galena, CTZ, and Summit were the biggest losers.

Breckenridge Opens $36 Million Brewery Campus

Breckenridge Brewery plans to open a $36 million facility on 12 acres in Littleton, Colo. this weekend, Westword reports. The new space, according to the article, replaces Breckenridge’s longtime headquarters in Denver, which the company intends to sell to a developer. The facility, per the article, will be complete with a 65-seat taproom and an 8,000 sq. ft. farmhouse restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating for for nearly 600 people. The company also plans to open an accompanying two-acre hop farm next year.

jester king green bottle

Jester King Makes the Case for Green Bottles

More so than dark brown bottles and cans, transparently green glass is unpopular among craft brewers because of the packaging’s penchant for letting in light, an enemy to beer that gives the liquid a skunky, off-flavored taste. But not everyone agrees with the assessment that skunked beer is a bad thing. Jester King, out of Austin, Texas, is now experimenting with green bottles to see how the introduction of light adds to the flavor and character of some of its existing beers.

“I absolutely like skunky beer,” explained head brewer Garrett Crowell on the Jester King blog. “We allow our beer to pick up ‘peripheral’ character that deviates from guidelines, whether it’s a bit of oak, Brettanomyces, or lactic acidity. Horse barn, goat sweat, and brett character are embraced, yet skunkiness is considered a flaw.” Crowell added that some of his favorite beers are packaged primarily in green bottles. “I’ve had brown bottle versions of some of these beers, and have had them on draft as well and there is an element missing from those versions that the green bottles have.”

Constellation Investing $2 Billion in Mexico, Announces Management Shakeup

Constellation Brands has announced plans to invest more than $2 billion in its Mexican brewery and bottling plant in Coahuila, reports Reuters. CEO Robert Sands said at an event on Tuesday the move is intended to increase its market share in the U.S. “Constellation Brands is investing because we believe that premium Mexican beer will keep growing and will keep leading this segment of the U.S. beer market for years to come,” said Sands, per the article. Alongside a number of wine, spirits and beer brands, Constellation also sells products from Grupo Modelo, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Mexican brewery, which is itself expanding in the Mexican state of Yucatán.

That wasn’t the only news to come from Constellation this week. The company also announced the promotion of David Klein to executive vice president and CFO. Klein replaces Bob Ryder, who is leaving Constellation on “amicable” terms, the company said.

Diageo North America President to Retire

According to Shanken News Daily, Diageo North America president Larry Schwartz has announced his plans to retire after a 40-year career in the beverage space. Schwartz plans to stay with the Diageo through the end of the year while the company searches for his replacement, reports Shanken. Schwartz has serves as the company’s president since 2012.