COLORADO – The ‘shop local’ culture has intensified as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts local businesses across the world.
Breweries are no stranger to the economic benefits of customers ‘drinking local,’ but while many local breweries have been saved by business ramping back up, the beer industry in Colorado still may be in trouble,
The state’s latest shortage to come out of the pandemic is local ‘hops’ – an ingredient in beer which adds aroma, flavor, and in some cases its signature ‘bitterness’.
Hops farming grew more popular in Colorado in the last decade – as farmers realized the untapped potential the state had for it. However, the once promising industry is now suffering, as breweries are unable to pay the steeper price to buy local,
“Sometimes buying local is not getting the best deal you can get, unfortunately,” says Monumental Beer Work’s brewer Todd Williamson.
“It may not be the most efficient, it may not be the most cost-effective,” says the National Wholesaler Beer Association’s Lester Jones.
Many breweries are opting for cheaper-manufactured foreign hops.
“But where some see an uncertain future for Colorado’s hops industry, others see potential,” says KREX5’s Reilly Spence.
The ‘Colorado Hops Company’ supports local breweries and hops farmers – and says the industry’s future is still bright,
“We are seeing more and more breweries that are going 100% Colorado,” says Colorado Hops Company’s Scott Ziebell.
Monumental Beer Works right here in Grand Junction is an advocate for locally sourcing its ingredients,
“We’re already buying as much local as we can; not just hops but yeast, and grain, obviously the water’s as local as you can get,” continues Williamson.
One thing both brewers and farmers can agree on is the importance of supporting one another, and the relationships that supporting local can cultivate,
“It’s good to have a robust economic supply chain where everyone is kind of connected even at the local levels,” explains Jones.
“We can still find hops I’m sure, but those connections that we’ve made, we don’t want to lose those,” continues Williamson.