The interest in craft brewing and success of independent brewers appears to be having a significant impact on hop production in the U.S. A new study that was released recently by researchers at Penn State and the University of Toledo found that hop production in the U.S. has expanded to unprecedented levels as demand for new and innovative craft beers continues to increase.
Hops are a critical component for brewing, providing beers with some of their most significant characteristics such as bitterness and aroma. A report from the Hop Growers of America shows that hop production has now grown expansively out of the three states that have historically been responsible for the majority of American hop production, to now include 29 states. The number of hop farms grew from 68 to more than 800 and overall acreage has increased to nearly 60,000 acres. California hop acreage has remained relatively constant over the past few years at 130 acres. The value of U.S. hops produced in 2019 totaled $637 million, an increase of nine percent from the year prior.
Referencing information from the U.S. Census of Agriculture and ReferenceUSA, researchers found that the number of American breweries more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2017. A report from the Brewers Association (BA) showed there were 7,346 craft breweries operating in 2018. The BA report also indicated that the vast majority of breweries are considered to be small and independent, collectively producing nearly 26 million barrels of beer in 2018. The increased interest in craft brewing has helped expand the overall market share for craft beer to more than 13 percent.
The findings from Penn State and the University of Toledo were published in the Journal of Wine Economics. The research showed a correlation between the increased number of craft breweries and growth in hop production but was not definitive in showing a clear cause-and-effect.