For years, a worldwide oversupply has enabled brewers to stockpile dry hops in storage indefinitely, while at the same time using less hops because of a switch to more bitter varieties. The result was growers abandoning their hop fields worldwide, with acreages dropping 30% in the United States.
Credited in part with the turnaround are craft brewers, which include microbreweries, regional breweries and makers of specialty beers. An increase in the number of craft brewers has increased the demand for a wider variety of hops that are being recognized internationally for their quality.
Currently the United States produces one-fourth of the world's supply of hops. As much as 70% of the U.S. crop, valued at about $120 million, is exported.