I was talking with an old friend and head brewer for a mid-sized brewery last night and we started to discuss the barley crop outlook for the next year. You see the weather was bad in late August and caused barley to sprout in the field which was almost ready for harvest and it will now be used as animal feed instead of malted for brewing beer. That will cause the price of malt to shoot up and those who don’t have a contract in place may find it difficult to get malt at all. That does not seem like a recipe for success when breweries are opening almost daily. I suspect we will see the price of beer skyrocket and many of the small breweries struggle to stay in business. My buddy indicated his supplier will honor his contract in terms of volume, but they could not predict what the price will ultimately be for the malt. When I started buying malt in bulk back in the day we were averaging less than 25 cents per pound as a homebrewer. Today that price is more than triple. I saw one story which put commercial brewery barley prices currently in the 40-50 cent range and that would be in line with triple the cost we saw in the past. I don’t know if this barley shortage will cripple the brewing industry or if it will curtail the thirst for beer of the general public, but if malt prices increase you can bet that increase will be pushed out to the consumer and you’ll end up paying more for that pint or bottle.