Organic Hops Makes Beer Even More Organic

Staff Writer
The larger supply of organic hops crops is changing organic beer certification requirements

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Organic hops crops are becoming more and more available to brewers.

Your organic beer may not be as organic as you think — but in time, they will be.

Due to the rareness in organic hops crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decided in 2007 that non-organic hops could still be added to organic beers. This lasted until January 1, 2013, when the USDA began to phase out its exemption. Today, brewers need to use 100-percent organic hops whenever possible, but they still have some leeway if organic hops aren’t available. With a bit more time, this exemption will be completely discontinued, and organic beers will truly be 100 percent organic.

The January decision has led to a boom in organic hops crop growth. Only one pound of hops is needed per 32-pound barrel of organic beer, but the ingredient is key to give it a bitter, tart flavor. This growth is crucial for the craft beer industry, which relies heavily on hops for its beers.

Beer’s use of hops comes from its cones (or flowers). The plants are susceptible to extreme weather, diseases, and pests. The perennial plant’s tendrils grow up tall trellises at a rate of 10 feet a day, meaning they need to fed and tended to often. According to an article from TakePart.com, organic hops can gross as much as $10,000 an acre, a great way small and mid-sized organic farms with a history of orchard crops can increase their revenues.

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