Fads may come and go in the beer market, but there’s one thing that stays the same: People like beer. But as drinkers reach for beers more on the bitter side (think IPAs), a whole new world of opportunity is opening up in the hops market.

Hops are what give beer that balance and depth, as well as their bitterness and aroma. And as craft brewers experiment more and more with them, all kinds of new options are hitting the shelves.

Traditionally grown outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, hops are making their way into greenhouses as brewers search for fresh, local ingredients. And while much of the indoor growing is still in a trial or preliminary phase, it could just be a profitable addition to traditional greenhouse crops. You can read more about greenhouse hops pioneers in our cover story, along with developments in research and marketing ideas.

And it’s not just that IPAs are having a moment in the sun. Craft brewing has gained momentum over the years, and just as people are opting for locally grown produce, they’re reaching for locally sourced beer as well. Like the local food and farm-to-table movements, consumers are looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint while improving the quality of their food and drinks.

It's a trend we see in gardening too. As the market for native plants continues to thrive, looking close to home for solutions is becoming more and more popular. And while it’s tough enough to know your costs and where profits lie with your current offerings, it never hurts to look into something new and different.

The key, like with any trend, is to know your costs, know your operation and know your what your customers (or potential customers) want. If there’s a certain kind of hops brewers in your area are dying to find, you could be their solution.

If you’re looking to expand, it’s always a good idea to keep your ear to the ground and stay open to new possibilities. With the right research and development, you just might find success in a market you never thought of entering.

Kate Spirgen, Editor | kspirgen@gie.net | 216-393-0277