Thursday’s IPA Day comes as U.S. hop growers in the Pacific Northwest are facing an uncertain future.
Thanks to the region’s severe drought, these farmers aren’t sure if they’ll be able to supply enough hops for all those American IPAs people just can’t get enough of, according to Food and Wine’s Mike Pomranz. That’s because many of the U.S. hop varietals are grown with the help of lots of water in Washington state, making them particularly vulnerable to a natural crisis like drought.
U.S. brewers, including Austin’s, likely won’t be immediately affected by possible hop shortages — but that could change.
“We have not really felt the impact of the drought and extremely warm weather in hop country, but I’m on the edge of my seat to see what happens with this year’s harvest,” Hops & Grain founder Josh Hare said via email. “It’s looking like we may see a lower-than-expected harvest due to the unseasonably hot weather, and if that’s the case, then we will definitely feel the strain in the coming years.”
The impact of the drought could be all the more damaging given just how much brewers in this country rely on Pacific Northwest-grown hops for their American IPAs, which is the most produced beer style in the U.S., according to Pomranz. The IPA (or India Pale Ale) relies on copious amounts of hops for its bold bitter flavor, but hops is a necessary ingredient in all beers.
Hops & Grain’s Greenhouse IPA and just-released Dispensary series, which focuses on hop-forward beers in a small-batch format, are among the beers that feature U.S. hop varietals like Centennial, Simcoe and Amarillo. These are particularly sensitive to a lack of water, according to Pomranz.
Hare said he’ll be making his annual trip to the Pacific Northwest at the end of this month to meet with farmers and hop brokers out there, which will help him get a better understanding of the possible coming shortage. Although his East Austin brewery contracts with the hop farmers and brokers 5 to 7 years in advance “to try and ensure stability,” he’s well-aware that it’s not just the increasing popularity of the IPA that could cause problems in the future.
“With 2 new breweries opening each day in the U.S., the supply of available hops is only going to get tighter and tighter,” he said.
That only means our celebration of IPA Day will have to be even more fervent than usual. Show your love of the hop at these Austin bars and breweries tomorrow, and keep checking back on this post for an updated list as more places unveil their plans for the hoppy day.
B.B. Rover’s. The far North Austin bar off U.S. 183 has been supplying good beers to the locals in that part of town, and IPA Day will be no exception. Look for Goliad Redfish, Karbach Hop Delusion and other IPAs on the tap wall.
Black Sheep Lodge. Staple local IPAs like (512) IPA, Independence Stash and Thirsty Planet’s Bucket Head are being tapped alongside more national offerings like Green Flash’s Soul Style IPA.
Easy Tiger. All of the IPAs at this Sixth Street bakery and beer garden, a total of nine, are on special throughout the day. Fork over only $4 for the likes of Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Lone Pint Yellow Rose, Real Ale MV Empire and more.
Flying Saucer. Although the hop-happy West 47th Street pub has taken celebrating to a whole new level by throwing a full-blown IPA Week, the Flying Saucer will surely tap some of the best of its hoppy stash on the actual IPA Day.
Hi Hat Public House. If you’ve never tried the Founders Brewing IPA portfolio all in one go before, East Austin’s Hi Hat can take care of that for you. The beer bar is tapping All Day, Centennial, Double Trouble and Devil Dance.
Hops & Grain. Celebrating on Friday rather than Thursday, the East Austin brewery will offer A Pale Mosaic, the Greenhouse IPA and the Dispensary IPA in the taproom.
Independence Brewing. During the brewery’s Thursday taproom hours, Independence is serving Stash IPA on the Randall with Columbus hops from 5 to 9 p.m.
Oasis, Texas Brewing. As if the Metamodern Session IPA wasn’t so tasty already, it’ll be $1 off at the taproom on Thursday. Get your Instagram primed for pictures of Metamodern against the gorgeous Lake Travis backdrop.
Stouthaus Coffee Pub. At Sunset Valley’s Stouthaus Coffee Pub, seven IPAs will be tapped at 7 p.m. in honor of this hop-loving holiday — three from Texas, three from around the U.S. and maybe one wild card, too. Taste them for a Texas vs. U.S. blind tasting contest.
The Brass Tap. This Round Rock beer bar is celebrating the holiday with Ballast Point brews all day, including Even Keel, Big Eye and three different versions of Sculpin. The Brass Tap will also have IPAs from Oskar Blues and Stone.
Uncle Billy’s Smokehouse & Brewery. The brewpub plans to keep a steady supply of Black Hop Down, a three-way collaboration with North by Northwest and the Alamo Drafthouse, on tap all month.
Workhorse Bar. Visit the North Loop bar anytime Thursday for $3 pints of Stash. You can also meet up with Independence Alex at 7 p.m. for pint glasses. Buy the beer, keep the glass.