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Hops shortage could lead to higher beer prices

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BATON ROUGE - A hops shortage is making it more costly for breweries to operate. That cost will eventually be passed onto the consumer.

Southern Craft Brewery Company makes its beer in Baton Rouge. Joe Picou is half of the small operation that has big plans.

"We felt there was an opportunity to start up a new craft brewery here, so that's why we did it," he explains.

The company already has a pair of tasty brews and is working hard to target the market.

"Basically making sure that you're going to put a beer out there that's not just good, but something that everybody wants and that everybody's going to be drinking around town," he told News 2's Brittany Weiss.

Hops is one of the main ingredients in beer. It's possibly more in demand now than ever before. The reason: Weather conditions that have a created a worldwide shortage.

That's problematic, specifically for small microbreweries like Southern Craft. The number of them have nearly doubled in the last five years.

More breweries means more great beer, but it also means more competition and spending more money for a limited number of ingredients. The price of hops is now twice what it was just a few years ago.

"It's a little costlier beer," Picou says. "And I think that consumers will probably see, unfortunately, will see a little bit of a hike on some beer prices going forward because of that."

Many brewers have contracts with hop growers to protect them from price increases, but beyond those contracts, the price of hops is uncertain.

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