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Craft Beer Times | The Growing Popularity of Hop Farming in the United States

The Growing Popularity of Hop Farming in the United States

The Growing Popularity of Hop Farming in the United States


Craft beer has been a growing trend in recent years, and with it so has the demand for fresh and unique hops. With more and more local breweries popping up all across the country, it’s no surprise that craft hop growing has also been on the rise. In fact, the U.S. hop industry has seen a significant increase in small-scale hop farming, catering to the needs of local breweries and homebrewers alike.

The Rise of Craft Hop Growing

Local Sourcing and Sustainability

One of the main driving factors behind the rise of craft hop growing is the increasing focus on local sourcing and sustainability in the craft beer industry. With many breweries striving to use local ingredients in their beers, small-scale hop farmers have found a niche market to cater to. Additionally, craft hop farming is often seen as a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to large-scale commercial hop farming.

Craft Hops as a Unique Selling Point

Craft breweries are known for their unique and flavorful beers, and the use of locally grown and unique hop varieties can add to that reputation. Many small-scale hop farmers focus on growing unique and experimental hop varieties that cannot be found in larger commercial hop operations. This allows breweries to differentiate themselves in a crowded market and create unique flavor profiles that cannot be replicated by larger breweries.

The Challenges of Craft Hop Growing

High Initial Costs

Starting a hop farm from scratch can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Small-scale hop farmers must invest in land, equipment, and infrastructure before even planting their first hop rhizomes. Additionally, hop farming requires significant knowledge and expertise, which can also come at a high cost.

Market Volatility

The craft beer industry is notoriously volatile, with trends and preferences constantly shifting. This can make it difficult for small-scale hop farmers to predict demand and adjust their operations accordingly. Additionally, weather fluctuations and crop failures can also severely impact a hop farmer’s bottom line.

The Future of Craft Hop Growing

Collaboration and Community

Despite the challenges, the future of craft hop growing looks bright. Many small-scale hop farmers have found success by collaborating with local breweries and forming close-knit communities within the industry. This allows for more efficient operations, shared knowledge and resources, and a sense of camaraderie.

Continued Demand for Unique and Local Ingredients

The focus on unique and local ingredients in the craft beer industry shows no signs of slowing down. As such, there will likely continue to be a high demand for small-scale hop farmers who can cater to this market. Additionally, increased awareness of sustainability and eco-friendliness may also drive demand for craft hop operations in the future.


Craft hop growing is a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. hop industry, driven by the increasing demand for local and unique ingredients in the craft beer market. While challenges such as high initial costs and market volatility do exist, small-scale hop farmers are finding success through collaboration and a focus on sustainability. As the craft beer industry continues to grow, it seems likely that the demand for craft hop operations will only continue to rise.


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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