Hops Prices on the Rise

By Mallory Lane

Published 05/15 2014 05:53PM

Updated 05/15 2014 06:39PM

BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY - The price of one of the main ingredients in beer is soaring, but is it affecting local breweries?

Making beer is a major market across the country, even here in our region.

As the price and demand of hops is on the rise, local breweries worry what it could mean for the future of their business.

Hops - the key ingredient in your favorite IPA - average about $5 per pound. But now, some types of hops are going up to nearly $14 per pound.

"I've seen some as high as $22. That's somewhat rare," Robin Hood Brewing Co. Head Brewer Chris Schell said. "For a place like us, we would use five or six pounds per batch. You're talking about $50 to $60.

For a smaller operation like Schell's, the difference in price isn't too big of a burden, yet. What is, is a growing demand.

"I think it's going to be important to go local," he said. "Overall, the increase in production is going to help stabilize hop purchasing sales."

Head Brewer Mike Smith is going local with his hops at The Gamble Mill in Bellefonte.

"One of our beers coming out later this year in September or October is going to have some fresh hops from a local grower," he said.

He said the decision was more about pushing local partnership than pricing, but with a worldwide shortage of hops and an increased demand, he understands why the price is going up.

Smith doesn't anticipate the price of beer at his business to rise anytime soon, though.

"As everything plays out, who knows what is going to happen," he said. "If it's going to be huge increases in price, we might have to."

The number of craft brewers is up 15% from last year and the popularity of home brewing is also contributing to a rise in hops demand.

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