The American Hop Convention has changed significantly over recent years. As recently as 10 years ago, the meetings were largely focused on the technical aspects of growing hops and were primarily attended by members of multi-generational family farm from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Now, thanks in large part to artisan craft brewers across the world, the scope and emphasis of the convention has changed; it is not uncommon to see brewers outnumber growers or meet growers from many other states outside of the Pacific Northwest. The transparency is refreshing, and the annual gathering to exchange ideas and renew relationships has never been more rewarding.
Because of the number of our great customers attending, we scheduled meetings for our North American Sales Team in conjunction with the convention. This gave us a chance to collaborate and then experience hands-on our mission of connecting family farms with some of the world’s finest brewers. Our sales staff reported many rewarding discussions with both growers and brewers at the conference.
Our YCH Hops Grower meeting was informative and well attended. Talia
Ibarguen, Sustainability Coordinator, did a wonderful job of outlining
our sustainability program and Zach Turner, Quality Assurance and
Sustainability Manager, presented a compelling case for quality by
explaining our feedback report to growers. Jason Perrault, Joe Catron,
and Drew Gaskell of
Select Botanicals Group,
along with Pete Venegas, Field Procurement Manager, also provided
great presentations on our field-to-brew-kettle quality programs to a
group of dedicated growers from throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is a
joy to work with such a great group of growers who are
genuinely interested in continually improving the quality of the hops
that are grown, processed, and delivered to our customers.
On a personal note, it was a pleasure for me to be able to participate in a living history presentation on behalf of my father. It was an honor to present my family history in hops to those present, along with Pat Leavy from Oregon, Mike Gooding of Idaho, and Dan Weisen from Michigan. As we focus on the future, it is always good to look back and understand where we have come from. I hope that the living history panel becomes a permanent part of our future conventions as there are a lot of great family history-stories to be told, and I look forward to hearing them.
Dr. Al Haunold provided an interesting history of public variety development. I personally appreciated the kind words he had for our good friend and former colleague Chuck Zimmermann. It is amazing the contributions these two men, and others, have made in developing so many of the public and private varieties that are popular with customers today.
The Oregon TR’ALE Reception at the Crux Fermentation Project was a wonderful event. Larry Sidor and his team were outstanding hosts and the fellowship, food, and beer were enjoyed by everyone. It was gratifying to learn that our very own Doug Weathers and his team at Sodbuster Farms were winners of this year’s Cascade Cup. It’s good to have the award “back in the family.”
It was interesting to hear the insights of other industry members on the future growth of the craft segment that has fueled such a high degree of recent hop plantings across the United States. Many of us have been puzzled by recent reports that an additional 5,000 to 6,000 acres would be planted in 2017. While ominous on one hand, it supported the feel of a changing market to hear Chris Swersey of the Brewers Association say, “Barring a yield catastrophe or significant external market changing event, current US acreage is likely sufficient to meet demand for 2017 crop; additional net acres are likely to create a supply surplus.” That brings to mind the four most dangerous words in any market, “This time it’s different.”
All in all it was a great convention. Well, maybe except for the snow and ice. See you next year in Palm Desert!