Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 2044 IHL Hop Draft! Over the next ten hours, as you’re all aware, the entirety of available hop stock will be chosen by the fourteen thousand CRAFT breweries who produce beer within the combined territories of the United Kingdom and the People’s Independent Republic of Salmondia. The format is the same as ever: individual varietals of hop will be allocated to each brewery in turn, based on the sum-total of last year’s combined RateBeer scores – with the lowest-scoring, drafting first. So, first up to the resin-block, the Britannica Brewery – based in the crater city of New Edinburgh.
Charles Faram IV, Commissioner of the International Hop League, takes to the podium. He peels back the green-leaf envelope, and announces the first shock of the night! Britannica have gone for Citra! Have they finally decided to embrace the citrus bomb? Where does that mean Styrian Goldings will be drafted? I can see a few surprised faces at tables belonging to other breweries – maybe this sets the scene for a shakeup at the top, and the bottom? Goodness me. Next up, Kintyre Brewing Company/Sake Concern – and once again, they select Hallertauer. No surprises there!
Third on the hop block are Cannon & Dennis – still without a brewery of their own, but nonetheless they do use hops, a few times a year. Yet before Commissioner Faram opens the green slip, a rising hubbub signifies that C&D have traded down, swapping picks with another brewery to gain an advantageous position in another draft. Rumours were rife the old ‘rub and sniff’ would happen, what with West Lothian’s Philosopher’s Stone Brewing (incorporating Panacea Brewing Co) holding a high pick in the woodchip draft. And yes! This has happened. Philosopher’s Stone trade up to nab the final hundred kilos of Simcoe in existence!
In terms of individual hops, one of the most talked-about in the mock drafts was, of course, Columbus. This bellwether hop is seen as pivotal to the CRAFT beer industry, and many hop analysts will look for it to go in the next pick, to Mctavish Bros Brewing Co. Their recent change of direction from bog-foraged beers to high alpha killers is seen as yet more evidence that British brewing is catching up with our surviving American cousins. Goodness me! Mctavish have selected the exclusive rights to replant the long-extinct Fuggles! Is that even possible? How CRAFT is that? Wonderful stuff!
We’re getting into the meat of the draft, now. Next up – London’s Biebertown – who, of course, recently turned their backs on canning and entered into business with the American entertainment corporation, changing their name in the process. Biebertown’s founder, Lucan Pint, sits there impassively as the Commissioner takes to the stage; his poker face really is impressive. Which is strange, as it was losing a card-game that resulted in his brewery re-brand. Anyway, Biebertown have chosen to brew all their beer for the next twelve months with…Magnum! A gun-themed hop; is that a threat to Bieber?
Well, time will tell. Now; the next pick was due to have been Tricky Stone – but, of course, they were banished from the IHL for daring to collaborate. Cross-brewery Hopfornication is, as we know, illegal in these days of hop shortage, and as a result Tricky Stone have duly been banished to the CRAFT brewing wastelands; or Germany, as it is more commonly known. Many a salty tear was shed, of course. But rules are rules. Their place in the draft has been taken by the next brewery in line; PartizKernel By NumberCoors. The Bermondsey macro-brewers select Centennial, landing a huge blow to the others.
Calling in the next pick via neural smart-lace, it’s Kitchen Sink Brewing. Based in a squalid bed-sit, from which their lone brewer never leaves, they take the entire global harvest of Sorachi Ace! As we know, Kitchen Sink only produce third-pint ‘cans’ made of Spiegelau glass, which roll out of a special hatch once a month at pre-determined intervals – so-called NanoCans. They are allocated via a series of intricate clues revolving around the sequential winning of Untappd badges (the last one being the famed ‘Seven labours of Hercules Double IPA’). As a result of their mystery/agoraphobia, Kitchen Sink will require all eighty-thousand tons of Sorachi to be posted through their letterbox, one packet at a time. Who’d be a Parcel Force intern, eh?
Anyhow, that’s pretty much it for the first round of hop drafting; shortly, it will be the top of hour, and time for the scheduled song of devotion to Premier Farage. Before that, though, the bête noire of brewers from Salmondia will take their hop selection; ReefShark plc, who recently – could we forget – launched a keg into space to condition an IPA on President Cyrus’s personal Orbital. What will they pick? Oh! I hear a rumbling!? My, they’ve turned up in a tank, it seems they are going to fire their selection back over the border! What a way to subvert the Faragian hop tax!