Growing Hops Outside the Pacific Northwest

This story from the Wall Street Journal is not the most informative article on hops you will ever have the pleasure of reading. Then again, it’s from the Journal, not Beer Advocate. Little different audience they’re appealing to, I guess.

Target demographic aside, it actually does make for a pretty interesting read. Apparently, given the recent meteoric rise in the price of hops, some newcomers across this great nation are trying their hand at growing the flowery devils on a commercial scale. The article gives a quick synopsis on the circumstances that led up to this turn of events before briefly profiling a handful of these farms, including one in particular that caught our eye:

Many new hop farmers are focused on selling to brewers in their region. Rick Pedersen, a farmer in Seneca Castle, N.Y., began growing hops in 1999 but wasn’t able to start selling them until just few years ago, when the Ithaca Beer Co. in Ithaca, N.Y., became a customer. He is part of a budding revival of hops production in the Northeast, with farmers in states such as Pennsylvania also participating.

“It’s not an easy thing to just start up from scratch,” Mr. Pedersen says, adding he’s still “not even close” to recouping his investment…

Until the 1920s, New York state was the nation’s hotbed for hops. However, two diseases — downy mildew and powdery mildew — crippled production, and the industry began moving to drier Western climates less susceptible to mildew. Today, nearly all of the nation’s hops are grown in Washington, Oregon and Idaho

The Ithaca Beer referenced is the delightful (and lamented) Double IPA, which I believe is on indefinite hiatus due to the current hops “situation”. Pederson Farms has also supplied Victory with fresh hops for their harvest ale for the past few years as well as Brown’s Brewing for their tasty New York hopped IPA. Brown’s has since opened their own small bottling operation and planted over 800 hops rhizomes in Hoosick, New York with an eye to the future. More on that, hopefully, sometime in the uh… future.

~ by bojangles on August 27, 2008.

2 Responses to “Growing Hops Outside the Pacific Northwest”

  1. Ithaca Double IPA is on indefinate leave. You can read about it here.

  2. Thanks. I knew I’d read that somewhere. Nice interview, by the way.

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