The annual American Hop Conventions have evolved significantly over the past couple of decades. Having attended this gathering for the past 40 years or so, it is rewarding to see the positive changes in both content and attendance. Conventions were once a venue for a little business and a lot of socializing, primarily among the long time hop grower families from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. While new generations of these families are still represented (which is exciting in and of itself), it is refreshing to see hop growers attend from all over the United States and a testament to a new era of connection and transparency as brewers from all over the world come to mingle with hop growers and learn about what we are doing to help them make great beer.
This year’s convention in Palm Desert was an opportunity to connect our staff with both grower customers and brewer customers. With such a growing number of customers attending, we found it convenient to schedule our quarterly sales meeting in conjunction with the convention. Reviewing our sales coverage and marketing plans was helpful as we focus on our mission of connecting hop growers with the world’s finest brewers. Our Green Chief® meeting was informative and well-attended.
We truly believe that great beer starts with great hops and the convention was full of helpful sessions focused from quality control, food safety, and harvest timing. It is always interesting to hear the Brewer’s Association perspective on beer market trends and the relationship between the supply of hops and demand. Our CEO, Mike Goettl, participated in his first Merchants Panel which was perhaps the highlight of the convention based on attendance and interest.
One clear take-away from the conference, from sources in both the hop industry and the Brewers Association, is that although there are some plantings needed of some specific hop varieties, there is no imminent need for a net acreage increase in the US in 2018.
The social events were well-planned and well-attended and provided ample opportunity for net-working and renewing old acquaintances. Rumor has it that next year’s convention will be back in California, but near Monterrey. Until then, we have an interesting growing year and harvest ahead of us. Hopefully we’ll all be back at the convention next year discussing the successes of those efforts in supporting our brewers’ quest to make great beer.
Photos provided by Hop Growers of America