Craft beer exploded on to the market over the past few years, capturing the tastebuds of hipsters and connoisseurs alike. But the rise of hop prices could spell the end of the industry's scattering of small independent brewers and make it a ripe sector for acquisitions, analysts told CNBC.
The average price for all hops was $3.59 per pound in 2013, nearly double the cost in 2004. But craft beers are made from a significantly larger amount of hops—and often of a rarer, more expensive variety—than mainstream beers.
As well as pushing the price of a brew higher, the rising cost of hops could see smaller brewers become unaffordable to run and open themselves to takeovers from the global drinks giants, Jonny Forsyth, global drinks analyst at Mintel, told CNBC.
"Brewers will have to pay more—which will push prices up a lot and in some cases mean they will not produce the beers they like. This might affect their innovation pipeline. Consumers are prepared to pay more but there is a limit," Forsyth said in a phone interview.
"Increasingly bigger brewers are accepting craft beer is big, so will need to buy out the smaller brewers. A lot of them are reluctant to sell because they are into the passion of brewing. But if the prices are high that makes it a lot more of an economical decision for them."