- Craft breweries have given a large boost to hops farmers, whose grains are now in great demand by many different brewers both near and far. Many farmers told NPR that they have been able to expand their operations — and save them from financial ruin.
- This year, there are 53,213 acres of hops growing in the United States, an increase of 18.5% over 2015. More farmers have not negatively impacted price, with the USDA estimating a cost $4.38 a pound.
- Smaller craft breweries tend to use more hops. Craft beers, which can contain five times more hops than those made by larger breweries, use different varieties of the grain to give beers more of a distinct flavor.
It is a good time to be a hop farmer in the United States. Not only is there a steady increase in demand with increasing prices, but a hop shortage in Europe has increased reliance on those grown domestically.
Craft beer's popularity has snowballed over the last several years. According to the Brewers' Association, brews produced by small and independent breweries made up 12% of the entire beer industry in 2015. There were 4,269 craft breweries in the United States last year. Craft beer volumes, market share and profits have all posted double-digit increases for eight of the last 10 years.
The growth is not likely to stop anytime soon. Craft beer is one of the favorite trends for millennials who consider themselves foodies. And large breweries are taking notice, with giants like AB InBev acquiring smaller breweries, like Devil's Backbone. According to a report from SDR Ventures, the alcoholic beverage segment led the food industry in mergers and acquisitions in Q2 of 2016.