Popularity Of Craft Beer Means New Crop for Iowa Farmers
I grew up on a farm in Jones County. My dad raised cattle and also grew corn and soybeans. Back in those days he never imagined he'd have a reason to grow hops, but the grain is gaining popularity in Iowa and you can thank the craft beer craze for it.
The number of breweries in Iowa has doubled in the just the past five years. That has started a bit of a hops craze with Iowa farmers. Three years ago Iowa farmers only grew about 5 acres of hops. Today that number is close to 60 acres. Farmers say they're getting calls all the time from people either wanting hops for their craft beer or wanting information on how to grow it themselves.
So why the craft beer boom in Iowa? Several years ago big breweries were given permission to sell craft beer around the country, including Iowa. The state has also become more beer friendly. State regulations used to forbid beers stronger than 5.2% Most craft beers range higher than that.
While hops may be popular to grow now, many experts say they expect growers to level off in the next several years.