As craft beer sales spike, some breweries hoarding hops

Microbreweries have burst onto the beer industry in the past several years. According to the Brewers Association, there are more than 2,500 breweries in the United States; 1,221 of those are microbreweries.

In the United States, microbreweries have nearly doubled since 2012. The drastic increase in  microbreweries have resulted in a high demand for hops, an essential ingredient in beer.

“Last year was a very good year for craft beer,” said Matthew Welding, a young man who left his job as a stock broker to brew beer at Front Street Brewery in Davenport.  “This year, many breweries bought double the amount of hops of what they did last year.”

Welding said the hops shortage isn’t necessarily from an agricultural standpoint, but an industrial issue.

“A lot of breweries are almost hoarding the hops,” Welding said as he ran his hands through a bag of fresh hops. “They are storing a bunch of hops in case they do have to make a lot of beer.”

At Front Street Brewery, they have plenty of hops for the busy summer season.

“We were lucky enough to get out there early and get all the hops we wanted,” Welding said with a smile.

In 2013, beer sales were down 1.9%, but craft brew sales rose nearly 20%, and craft brewers claim 14.3% of the overall beer market.

Front Street Brewery makes seven different beers; some requiring more hops than others. Their riverfront location draws thousands of customers each year.

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