Farmers Have Bad News for Beer Drinkers

Malt-barley shortage will send prices up
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2014 2:46 AM CDT
Farmers Have Bad News for Beer Drinkers
Brewmasters inspect a bag of malted barley.   (AP Photo/Green Flash Brewing Co.)

There's been way too much water falling on America's chief malt-barley-producing states, which is bad news for people who like to drink something a little stronger. Wet weather in Idaho, North Dakota, and Montana has caused a lot of barley to germinate early, meaning it won't be of any use to beer producers and that prices are certain to rise next year, reports the Billings Gazette. "We've been told to expect major price increases for malt," the owner of Angry Hank's microbrewery tells the paper. "There is no panic yet. Everybody has been telling us not to panic. There is carryover from last year's malt supply. Our prices are stable until January, but beer prices are going up."

The price rises could be especially steep because it's unusual for crops in all three states to be hit. "We had big problems back in 2002 in Montana and North Dakota, but I don't think Idaho had such big problems that year," says a spokesman for the American Malting Barley Association. "This seems geographically widespread, and because the harvest is still going on it’s hard to tell how bad it is." Growers in southern Canada are also having problems, reports Gawker, but the country's record 2013 crop should help keep price rises at bay until at least the start of next year. (More barley stories.)

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