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Slower Growth For Craft Beer Leaves Northwest Hops Producers With Surplus

Dave Shea
Flickr Creative Commons

Despite a proliferation of craft beers in the U.S., it turns out there is a surplus of one of the main ingredients: hops.

Idaho is the third-largest hop producer in the nation with more than 5,000 acres planted in the state, mostly in Canyon County. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the stockpile of hops is just under 100 million pounds -- that's about 15 percent more than last year.

Washington State's Yakima Valley leads the nation in hop production and the Yakima Herald-Republic Newspaper says last year craft brewers, those producing less than 6 million barrels of beers, planned their hop purchases based on a 15 to 18 percent craft brewer growth rate. But last year, that rate was just 5 to 6 percent.

Washington hop producers say one way to avoid the surplus in the future may be to switch  to more popular hop varieties like citra, used most often in brewing India Pale Ale, or IPA.