Slowing growth in the craft brewing industry has contributed to a greater stockpile of hops in the Yakima Valley, which grows the vast majority of that key ingredient in beer.
As of Sept. 1, growers, suppliers and brewers had an estimated stockpile of 98 million pounds of hops, an increase of 15 percent from the same period in 2016.
That’s according to figures released last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Oregon, Idaho, and Washington grow 98 percent of the country’s hops. The Yakima Herald-Republic reported that industry officials said a lot of breweries purchased hops based on 15 to 18 percent growth rates, which have been the norm. But last year there was just 5 to 6 percent craft brewery growth.
Craft brewers are defined as those who make under 6 million barrels of beer.