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Craft Beer Times | The Booming Business of American Craft Hop Farming

The Booming Business of American Craft Hop Farming

The Booming Business of American Craft Hop Farming

The Rise of Craft Hop Growing

Over the past several years, craft beer has taken the world by storm, and along with it, craft hop growing. Craft beer brewing has become a popular hobby for many, and craft hop growers have been stepping up to meet the demand for locally grown, high-quality hops.

What are Hops?

When most people think of beer, they picture wheat, barley and water, but hops are also a crucial ingredient in beer making. Hops are the flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus), and are used in beer to balance the sweetness of the malt, add bitterness and provide distinctive flavors and aromas.

Why Grow Hops?

For many, the appeal of growing hops is the opportunity to create a locally-sourced and sustainable ingredient for beer. Additionally, growing hops can be a satisfying and rewarding experience. Hops plants are fast-growing and develop thick foliage, making for a beautiful and functional yard addition.

The Craft Hop Growing Process

Craft hop growing can take place on a small or large scale, depending on your goals and available resources. The process typically begins with selecting and purchasing hop rhizomes (a section of the root system) and planting them in well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight. During the growing season, hops require regular watering and fertilizing. In the fall, the hop cones (the part of the plant that is used in beer making) are harvested, dried and stored for future use.

Challenges of Craft Hop Growing

Craft hop growing is not without its challenges. Pests, diseases and unpredictable weather can impact plant yields and quality. Additionally, home-based hop growers may struggle to meet the quantity demands of commercial craft breweries. However, with proper planning, research and trial and error, craft hop growing can be a fulfilling and profitable endeavor.

The Future of Craft Hop Growing

As more and more consumers seek locally sourced, high-quality ingredients in their beer, the craft hop growing industry is likely to continue its growth trajectory. Additionally, many North American farmers are turning to hop cultivation as an alternative to traditional crops, leading to a surge in commercial hop production in areas such as the Pacific Northwest and Ontario. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a commercial grower, the craft hop industry is full of opportunities and growth potential.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

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