By David Highfield

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s trouble brewing for beer makers around the country, and it may lead to higher prices for some brews.

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Like anything, good beer requires a good recipe and all the necessary ingredients.

Problem is, it’s now harder to get one critical component.

The Church Brew Works was a pioneer in the craft brewery trend. Opening in a former church in 1996, its brews have become a staple in Lawrenceville.

But the brewery manager says he’s seen a change with a vital ingredient.

“As more and more breweries open up, they’re kind of vying for a limited amount of hops that are available,” said Kiel Batanian. “It’s just making it harder and harder to acquire certain hops.”

Hops give beer its flavor and aroma.

While Church Brew Works has a long-term contract for its hops, not all brewers do.

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“Certain breweries that don’t have the luxury of having a hops contract, may find themselves paying a lot more for hops,” said Batanian.

That’s because in addition to growing demand, experts say weather has crippled crops.

Most of the country’s hops are grown in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and those three states have had increasingly severe droughts.

NASA Scientist Dr. Joshua Fisher blames it on climate change: “We are reaching this kind of tipping point where what we’ve been used to in terms of how much rain we’re going to get and how plants grow is no longer the norm.”

In Los Angeles, one of the fastest growing breweries says what it brews now depends on what it can find.

“Every month, we try to figure out where can we get what we need to make a particular beer,” said Mike Voss, of Frogtown Brewery.

At Church Brew Works, they’re somewhat insulated from trouble because of long-term hops contracts. But breweries who don’t have them will pay more for hops, which in the end, could make the price of your favorite brew, harder to swallow.

“They’re going to have to put that on the consumer if they want to think about their bottom line,” said Batanian.

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Another factor when there’s a hops shortage, mega beer producers gobble up most of what’s available, making it much more difficult for the little guy.

David Highfield