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High Hopes for Hops: The booming craft beer market is creating frothy opportunities for U.S. farmers
A shift in American drinking culture has put craft beer in the mainstream. It satisfies millennials’ desire for individualism, and it piggybacks on the local food movement, all while nurturing a consumer’s leeriness of big business in the post-Great Recession world.
The American hop farmer has been a chief beneficiary of the booming demand for craft beer. Hops are used an average of 20 times more in craft beers than
in traditional American light lagers, and the hops in craft beers are typically of a more expensive category known as Aroma hops. But craft beer comes at a hefty price with some retailing for more than $20 for a 22-ounce bottle. That price tag is pushing the $272 million hops industry to expand acreage and improve quality in the traditional production areas of the Pacific Northwest as well as in new regions across America.
Aroma hops are more difficult to grow and yield less production than their traditional counterpart known as Alph