With love for IPA spanning nearly the entire globe, we are using more hops than ever before. Beer Hawk’s Beer Sherpa Patrick Gengler wonders if it is coming to an end… and what’s next?

Founders in the US produce a fantastic hoppy lager in PC Pils

Beer writers and brewers alike are warning of an impending price spike from the hop shortage, fuelled by our collective obsession with the bitter plant. And it leaves me wondering, is this just Mother Earth telling us to cut it out!? When will the trend change?

Many people are seeing it already; little pockets of the market all over the US and I’m sure elsewhere (I just haven’t seen any data), people are asking for something that’s a tad nicer than a punch to the face. Well, actually they are asking for something that doesn’t punch you at all: the Pilsner.

I love that the trend is heading that way in the States. I think there’s an element of Shakespearean comedy/poetic beauty in the fact that craft brewers started the whole craft movement to get people away from the big name pilsners only to return once more to this classic ‘old world’ style. Let me be clear though, I don’t think that any of the craft brewers who are bringing pilsners to market are going to do what the big brands did and ‘water down their malt bills with rice and corn. That’s the beauty of craft brewing, in order to stay craft (and maintain the respect of their patrons) they need to make a consistent, quality product by using the best ingredients.

What we have seen recently is an ‘Americanised’ or a ‘craftified’ version of the famous Czech style beer that is loaded with hop aroma and flavour but lacks that sneeze inducing bitterness.
This is a fabulous idea that allows them to satisfy both sectors of the market. They keep the hop heads interested by producing a beer that has enough dry hops to choke Galactus (consumer of worlds and master to the Silver Surfer), but draw in the lager/pilsner crowds with a tasty, easy drinking beer that smells stronger than it tastes. For the lager/pilsner crowd, this could even be the gateway beer that leads to harder stuff like double and triple IPAs.

I have been banging on about wanting to see more craft lager on the market for months now, and I’m sure my colleagues could tell you that they want it to happen just as badly as I do, so that I’ll shut up about it. I must say, I’m looking forward to whatever is coming with craft beer whether it be lagers, stouts, reds, or blondes. Cheers to the future of great beer.