Hydroponic growing techniques have existed since the early 17th century. These methods have already changed the way vegetables can be grown across the world, but why hasn’t anyone tried to grow hops this way?
If craft production is going to double in the next few years—per the Brewers Association’s goal of a 20 percent sales share by 2020—farmers will need to plant and harvest about another 18,000 acres of hops just to meet demand from craft brewers.
For the first time, the US hop industry has grown more hops for aroma than for the commoditized bittering acid. The biggest driver of this change has been a 40-percent increase in Cascade acreage from 2012 to 2013; over 2,000 acres in the Pacific Northwest have been converted to Cascade.