I heard something recently from someone in the hop business that I found discouraging. He said that a lot of what is bagged for homebrewers is sometimes years old. They look over their inventory and see what they need to get rid of and that is what ends up packaged for us.
The cold fact is that we are at the bottom of the food chain so to speak. Obviously at the top are the big commercial breweries. They get to come in for hop selection, checking out all the different lots, growers and regions, selecting the best of the best. Then there are all of the contract holders, then spot buyers, and finally you and me. So not only do we get the hops no one else wants, which we all understand, but also we may get old hops too. On top of this, we pay the highest price.
I know it is basic economics, and I don't have a problem with that but it still doesn't sit well. At a minimum I'm going to limit my hop purchases to places like http://www.yakimavalleyhops.com/default.asp
and others that buy off the spot market for sale to nano and home brewers. At least I can be sure it is the current year!