Much like craft beer itself, production trends of hops are ever-evolving. As consumer tastes change and producers forecast to meet future demand, the acreage devoted to specific varieties has shifted significantly over the last five years, according to a report released by the Hop Growers of America.
The Pacific Northwest (PNW) remains the one constant variable. The region continues to dominate the industry, accounting for approximately 99 percent of domestic production — a significant statistic given the U.S. is the largest hops producing nation in the world.
Since 2015, total hop acreage has increased from 43,633 to 58,641 acres. While yields were down last year as a result of heavy smoke cover from record wildfires, total production still exceeded 103 million pounds in the PNW.
At a more granular level, the report highlighted where brewer and drinker preferences currently lie.
With approximately 11 thousand acres planted, Citra continued to be the leading variety planted in the region. CTZ (6,286 acres) held on to second place, but acreage fell slightly year-to-year, while Mosaic (5,496 acres) is well-positioned to continue its rise, after the fruity variety catapulted from fifth to third last year.
Simcoe remained relatively flat in fourth place, while the former perennial leader of the pack, Cascade, continued to fall out of favor with hops farmers, dropping to fifth place with 4,038 acres, a 47 percent drop from its high in 2016.
Newcomer to the list, El Dorado hops, known for a musky pineapple flavor, crept up into 10th place with 1,584 acres planted. The newer flavorful varieties look to be contenders in the future, as data indicates that plantings have shifted from 50 percent alpha bitter hops in 2012 to nearly 78 percent aroma hops in 2020.
Highlighting the extent of changing hop trends over the past half-decade, and using the Hop Growers of America data, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine published this handy chart, shown below.