Craft brewers interested in capitalizing on consumers' interest in locally grown foods are encouraging more farmers to grow hops.
But getting a hops industry started in states like Wisconsin and Colorado has been slow-going because hops take a long time to mature and require a significant initial investment. Many farms have started, only to quickly go under.
Central Waters Brewing Co. President Paul Graham helped form a farmer-brewer cooperative in 2009 to provide seed money to get several Wisconsin farms started.
But more than four years later, the group has only about six acres of hops in production. The entire state has about 50.
Graham says the success he's seen has been among people with agricultural backgrounds who have eased into the business.