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Global hop market

A local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms. 

Hop Market in Russia

Germany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.

drinktec

US. St. Louis Brewery outsourcing Schlafly to Iowa brewer

St. Louis Brewery soon will be brewing its Schlafly beer at facilities in Tennessee and Iowa to help keep up with soaring demand.

The new arrangements will bring the brewery's total out-of-state brewing contracts to three; production of Schlafly Summer Lager cans moved to Stevens Point, Wis., in 2010. By this time next year, as much as 20 percent of St. Louis Brewery's beers could be made outside of Missouri.

"We're already brewing at close to our maximum here," said brewery co-founder Dan Kopman, referring to brewpubs Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood and the Tap Room downtown. The out-of-state brewing arrangements are not necessarily a long-term solution so much as "a way to give us some wiggle room to figure out how much more beer we need to make in St. Louis going forward."

Small and regional breweries have increasingly turned to contract-brewing in recent years as sales of craft beer continue to climb and the shrunken credit market has made it harder to get loans to build new brewing spaces.

"There are - and will continue to be - many contract relationships and conditions as our bursting-at-the-seams industry continues its growth pattern," said Jenn Litz, editor of the online trade publication Craft Business Daily. "There is just not enough money, capacity and time to do things another way in the interim."

Contract-brewing is not new territory for St. Louis Brewery, which had a Minnesota brewery produce its bottled beers for years until Schlafly Bottleworks opened here in 2003.

Yet Kopman says the deals his company has recently brokered with Blackstone Brewery in Nashville, Tenn., and Backpocket Brewing in Coralville, Iowa, are unique in the beer industry. Although St. Louis Brewery has no ownership stake in Blackstone or Backpocket, the locations will operate like "Schlafly satellite breweries," Kopman said.

Blackstone and Backpocket are both being run by former St. Louis Brewery employees - Dave Miller of Blackstone was the Tap Room's original head brewer, and Jacob Simmons of Backpocket worked in the quality-control lab at Bottleworks. Both facilities are similar to Bottleworks in terms of size, brewing equipment and bottling lines.

"These partnerships go much deeper than, 'Here's our recipe. Make our beer,'" Kopman said. "We have been involved in everything from site selection to water analysis. And we've been able to do those things on our terms, with our people and our expertise."

The first Tennessee-brewed Schlafly beers will roll out this year; Iowa production is expected to begin in late 2012. The out-of-state breweries will likely each brew about 5,000 barrels a year of Schlafly beer.

The beer packaging will disclose where it was produced, just as the brewery has done with its Wisconsin-brewed Summer Lager. Kopman said Schlafly beers made in Tennessee and Iowa will be distributed mostly in those areas and will not be sold in St. Louis.

"We still want to be able to make all of the beer that we sell in St. Louis in St. Louis," he said. "I'll always be wedded to the idea of running a sustainable, local business, not to being the biggest beer company we can possibly be."

The brewery, founded in 1991, is on pace to make about 42,000 barrels of beer this year - equivalent to about 14 million 12-ounce bottles - up from 36,000 barrels last year and 30,000 barrels in 2009. Bottleworks and the Tap Room have run out of room to expand production, and Kopman said he'd like to watch how the beer landscape changes in the next few years before taking out a loan for a new facility here.

In the meantime, Kopman and St. Louis Brewery co-founder Tom Schlafly are still moving forward, albeit slowly, with a succession plan to hand off ownership of the company to local investors.

Kopman and Schlafly announced last summer that they had starting looking for a buyer, and a dozen potential candidates have signed confidentiality agreements to peruse the company's financial records. A few of those investors have since lost interest, and no new ones have come forward, Kopman said.

"We're not in any rush," he said, adding that one step of the succession - an employee share-purchase plan - will go into effect by April.

22 Aug. 2011

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