Beer and BBQ: Part II

IMG_6339After the food, no good Labor Day celebration is complete without drinks, namely beer.

Admittedly, I’ve never cared much for the abundant cans of Budweiser, Coors, Molson and to a lesser extent Heineken and Beck’s at Labor Day parties. Yet, it was because of these typical omnipresent beers (all pale lagers as I would later learn) that I came to associate the taste of beer with alternatively bad tap water and urine. Beer tastings at award-winning at local craft breweries including Cooperstown Brewing Co and Hyde Park Brewing Company did nothing to dispel the lingering notes of these unsavory tastes and make me change my opinion on beer. As people continued telling me that beer is an acquired taste that I just needed to “get used to”, I elected to simply avoid beer all together in favor of wine and cocktails.

Some years back then, a Belgian friend coaxed me into trying a bottle of Tripel Karmeliet. I fell in love with the rich warm hues and subtle layered notes at first sip. From here, I ventured into blondes and other pale ales, including the heavily commercialized Hoegaarden and Leffe Blonde, growing ever fonder of beer along the way.

And so it was that I found myself walking down the beer aisle at the grocery store in the lead-up to the weekend celebrations.

Besides the definite observed increase in craft beer offerings, what struck me most was how nearly every brewery seemed to make an Indian Pale Ale. Intrigued, I decided to purchase a random six-pack. (For those wondering how I could have missed this, the answer is I’ve been living aboard.)

The very same day, I saw an article link for the IPA revolution on The Economist while skimming through my emails. At first, I didn’t connect the two together, thinking that IPA stood for another radical terrorist group or something. Upon reading the article in full, I was doubly surprised to learn just how popular India Pale Ale was.

Being now a bit biased towards liking the beer, having read on the amount of attention paid to quality and craftsmanship by breweries all aiming to show off their skills through the IPA, I opened a bottle and took my first mouthful. I was immediately met with a blend of exciting hoppy flavors and rich earthly aromas. The guests apparently enjoyed the beer as well as my stock of IPA were depleted while other beers remained, capped in their bottles.

Due to the, understandably, increasing popularity of IPA, there is now a growing shortage of hops, the main grain used in the production process. According to the Wall Street Journal, a pound of hops has skyrocketed from $1.88 in 2004 and to an expected high of $10 this fall.  Likewise, there is seemingly no foreseeable slowdown in the demand for hops in the near future.

And so I end with this. According to a Cornell Cooperative FAQ, a $12,000 initial investment would cover the land and labor costs (discounting equipment, which can be rented) to start a 10-15 acre hops farms and achieve a ‘good income’.

I sense a Kickstarter campaign…


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