Farmers Growing More Hops and Barley for Craft Beer

Craft beer has begun to impact the farming industry in a big way. Fortune reports that an increase in craft breweries’ demand for barley—they use between three and seven times more malted barley per barrel compared with companies like Budweiser or Coors—has led to a 50 percent decrease in market prices since 2012.

This is good new for breweries and farmers, but farmers haven’t yet been able to cash in on the rising demand. The smaller batches of malted barley that craft breweries require take more time and attention, and it may be up to five years before American farmers can begin to compete with larger distributors. Craft breweries currently buy barley through merchants who import European and Canadian malt.

An increase in demand for hoppy IPAs also has farmers considering planting hops for the first time, a crop that has doubled in price since 2005 and changed in variety over recent years, perhaps serving as a reflection of the growing craft beer industry: Domestic farmers used to specialize in alpha hops, which give a beer its bitterness. But this year, 70 percent of hops crops will be of the aromatic variety, which contribute to the taste and smell of the brew—something prized in craft beer.  [Fortune] [Photo:]