Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Hop Exchange by Rob Kosmeder.
Beer is near the top of things Wisconsin is known for… but what about what goes into beer? Wisconsin accounts for 50 acres of the 65,000 acres of hops in the U.S. It is a small, but mighty industry in Wisconsin, according to Matt Janzen of the Wisconsin Hop Exchange.
Hops are used to flavor, bitter and stabilize beer. It also gives beer its aroma. Janzen, who is the marketing and sales director at the Wisconsin Hop Exchange, says demand over the past few years has outpaced the supply. The industry saw a hit during the pandemic when pubs and eateries closed down.
Janzen says there’s a disconnect between what consumers think of as local beer. Local breweries can get their hops from anywhere. But he feels the demand is growing from consumers for local hops in their local beer. About 95 percent of Wisconsin hops stay in the state.
He adds that $10-$12 per pound for Wisconsin hops goes into the local economy. Janzen says Wisconsin needs more hop growers and encourages those interested to contact the Wisconsin Hop Exchange for how to get started. It’s about a $10,000-per-acre investment to start growing hops.