That six pack of high-brow beer is about to come at a higher price, thanks to the sharpest surge in decades in the cost of the hops and barley that give each brew its distinctive taste.
Consumers could pay 50 cents to $1 per six pack more in the coming months for many small-batch "craft beers," as brewers pass on rising hops and barley costs from an unpalatable brew of poor harvests, the weak dollar and farmers' shift to more profitable crops. Other makers of craft beers, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. brewing industry, say they may eat the higher ingredient costs, which will pare their profits.
"The hops are to Samuel Adams what grapes are to wine," says Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, one of America's fastest-growing beers. The company has raised its prices just over 3% this year to help offset the hops and barley costs. Mr. Koch says that for next year, the company is "probably looking at the same or maybe more."