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A decline in beer sales has led to an excess supply of hops in the U.S.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Now a story about beer and the plant that gives some brews a frothy top and a unique taste and smell.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Americans actually drank less beer last year, and that has left farmers who grow hops with an oversupply.

MAGGIE ELLIOT: Part of this is because of leftover inventory from the COVID era, where there was a lot of beer that was not able to be consumed on premise areas in retail, in restaurants, in bars because of the pandemic.

FADEL: Maggie Elliot is with the Washington State Hop Commission. Her state has the country's biggest hop yield - more than $400 million. She says another challenge is that craft beer sales are down.

ELLIOT: Craft beer, on average, uses about five times the amount of hops than macro industrial-type brews do. And so in the past 10 years, we've doubled our acreage. This is a explosive era of the craft beer boom. And now we're starting to see market saturation.

MARTIN: Elliot says a drop in the demand for hops could strain the budgets of smaller, rural farm communities. She's hoping Americans will hop to it and give hop growers a boost.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALAN GOGLL'S "BUTTON ON BROWN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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