Hops Shortage Threatens Craft Brewers

Drink up before it’s too late.

Feb 25, 2014
Outside Magazine

Will Washington be able to keep up with the demand for hops?    Getty Images/iStockphoto

During the past several years, craft breweries have been cropping up nationwide at an incredible rate. In 2013, 2,500 craft breweries spanned the country—nearly 500 more than just two years previously. Now farmers in Washington are wondering if their hops will keep up with demand.

Although the state with the highest concentration of microbreweries per capita is Vermont, Washington produces 79 percent of the country's hops—about 54.9 million pounds in 2013—according to the USDA.

Demand for aroma hops over the more common alpha hops, combined with warmer summer temperatures in desertlike eastern Washington, means breweries might soon be rationing their batches, reports the Seattle Times

Craft brews currently make up only 10 percent of the beer market, but that percentage is expected to rise dramatically. Add that to a surge of interest in home brewing and the potential for a hops shortage in the future just might drive you to drink (for a while, at least).