A basket of hops is pictured in a brewery in the Upper Austrian town of Saint Martin in this August 13, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/Files
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BOUGHTON UNDER BLEAN, England: Fans of craft beers could soon face higher bar bills as small, independent brewers face a potentially serious shortage of a vital ingredient: hops.Last summer's hot and dry weather blighted the European hop harvest and strong demand for increasingly popular craft beers, which use a lot of hops, is putting small brewers' profit margins under pressure and forcing them to raise their prices.On his farm in Kent, not far from London, Tony Redsell has been growing hops since 1948 and some of the varieties he cultivates, strung along yarns supported by rows of high poles in traditional fashion, are more than 200 years old.He sells most of his hops under contract to small brewers in the United States and his prices have risen by 20 percent in the past three years. Craft beers are produced by small, independent brewers using traditional methods.Rabobank said craft beer had become "a worldwide phenomenon" and would ensure strong demand for hops this year.
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