Hop Shortage Hits Scotland’s Best IPA

An American-style craft beer brewed by Edinburgh’s Top Out Brewery, ‘The Cone’, has been described as “Scotland’s best IPA”. The intensely hoppy craft brew has received rave reviews, but Top Out will shortly be brewing the last batch because of a shortage of its all-important American hops.

When Simon Martin of Real Ale Craft Beer tasted the Cone IPA he said: “…Oh my, stone the crows! What an utterly amazing IPA this is, a hophead lover’s dream. I’m lost for words. The on-rushing, galloping, sprinting American hops, the rasping bitterness. This is the standout IPA. The best Scottish IPA I’ve tried.”

Production of The Cone has been hit by a double whammy of rapidly growing demand from US craft brewers and a heat wave which reduced yields in last year’s hop harvest. Aptly named after the part of the hop used in brewing, ‘The Cone’ is made with all-American hops, added at six different stages in the brewing process; four times in the boil and twice dry hopped in the fermenter.

With American hops Simcoe and Summit as key ingredients, the tantalising craft beer is ‘an intense American-style IPA with lots of hops, bitter with citrus notes of grapefruit, complemented with traces of orange and passion fruit’.

“Simcoe hops are no longer available so the last brew of The Cone will take place in early June,” says Head Brewer, Michael Hopert. “So, if another micro-brewery out there has some spare Simcoe, please contact us so we can keep going.”

Apart from brewing, Michael’s great passion is climbing and this is reflected in the story under-pinning Top Out’s craft beers: “All our beer labels have an Ordnance Survey map showing famous climbing routes ‘topping out’ in the ‘O’ of Top Out. The map on The Cone’s label shows the route up Ben Lomond, one of Scotland’s most popular Munros. So, Summit just had to be one of The Cone’s hops!”

Demand for aroma hops with striking citrus notes from the US is growing much faster than supply. This is being driven by the rapidly growing US and UK markets for craft ales; in the UK alone consumption is increasing at about 15% every year. What’s more, craft beers consume about six times more hops during the brewing process than mass produced generic beers. Fortunately, Top Out has backup plans for fans of hoppy IPAs, and The Cone’s younger brother, South Face, is already available. It is also a very hoppy IPA, this time brewed with hops from New Zealand. The delicious craft beer has a balanced hoppy bitterness and exotic fruit notes.

“Our craft ales are inspired by a mix of German, Belgian, American and Scottish brewing traditions,” adds Top Out’s Head Brewer. “Many of our beers are already stocked in Oddbins (in Scotland and London) and our Bavarian style ‘Schmankerl’ wheat beer and ‘Staple’ pale ale have also featured in Aldi’s Craft Beer Festival. We’re also in craft beer pubs like the Bow Bar, Stags Bar, the Bon Accord, the Potting Shed, Jeremiah's Taproom and the Bodega.”

If you want to stock some of Scotland’s most distinctive craft beers, Top Out Brewery is looking for more on-trade and off-trade distributors. Please contact Michael or Moo (Philip) to get your hands on an order or to try some sample beers on 0131 440 0270 or info@topoutbrewery.com