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November 9, 2011

New York State Hops

Recently there has been renewed interest in cultivation of hops in upstate and central New York. Browns Brewing in Troy, N.Y recently hosted the Northeast Hops Alliance who is pushing for more hop cultivation in upstate N.Y.
Hops first came to America around 1630 but did not find their way to new york state until 1808. The crop was small for many years supplying only small or farmhouse breweries but by 1830 hop production was serious business. By then end of the century New York was producing about 80% of the nations hops. There was disaster on the horizon though, disease and pests  wiped out much of the production in the early 1900's then prohibition made hops an obsolete crop.
Today most of the nations hops as well as much of the worlds hops are grown in the pacific northwest, primarily in the Yakima Valley area of Washington. But a recent New York Times article pointed out that hops are making a comeback in new york state.
I emailed Steve Miller at the Northeast hops alliance for some numbers on the New York hops crop, while he didn't have any hard figures he did provide me with some numbers. In the 2011 growing season New York had about 30 acres of hops, each acre yielded approximately 1000 pounds of hops giving us a total harvest of abut 30,000 pounds (not too shabby). Steve also mentioned that much of the crop is sold as fresh hops and not dried and stored. Steve says that the hops conference (held at the beginning of November at Brown's Brewing in Troy, NY) had 185 participants many of whom intend on planting hops or planting more hops for the 2012 growing season. Many new york state breweries are using locally produced hops in an effort to make their product more local, additionally a farm brewing bill has been proposed, where a farm that grows hops or malt can brew up to 15,000 barrels per year provided they use a large amount of their crop in the beer they produce.
I think this is great, I would like to use some New York grown hops in some beers. Hopefully the amount of farmers specializing in hops will increase and we can see some of the innovation with the new high alpha varieties being developed here that we see out west.

3 comments:

  1. you mention that the farm brewery is now legal...I knew a bill was proposed but was it passed and what are the details?

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  2. Northeast Hop AllianceNovember 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    The NYS Farm Brewery Legislation has not been passed yet, but all are hopeful. There are a few details being worked out with regard to the allowed number of barrels and the timeline for using greater percentages of NYS ingredients. Hopefully we will see some progress in the next legislative session. I am sure this was just a misunderstanding.

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  3. Oversight on my part, I went back and edited the post to reflect that the bill has been proposed and not passed. Thanks for reading :)

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