6. Hop growing and processing in the northeast United States

S. MILLER (1); (1) Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A.

Hops I
Thursday, October 8
10:00–11:15 a.m.
Grand 6–8

Hop production in the United States is currently going through some significant changes—when hasn’t it? New York had more than 300 breweries in 1900 and 40,000 acres of hop production at its peak in 1890. We all know that changed. A hundred years of brewery consolidation is now moving into a rapid expansion of craft production and diversification. Every state is benefiting from consumer demand for quality, fresh, distinctive, local beers. These new investments in small and mid-sized breweries have opened the hop market to smaller scale hop production. The pie is getting bigger. What can eastern hop growers do to break into this market? There are potential added values for hops being produced in states like New York and Michigan that were once major production areas for hops. These include the recognition and selection of local agricultural products by both in-state and out-of-state tourists and consumers. Also, some expansion of production outside the Pacific Northwest could provide the ability to add to the currently available flavor profiles. Brewers too are looking for ingredients that distinguish their products. Terroir doesn’t only effect grapes. The “modern” eastern hop industry began 15 years ago with craft brewers looking for wet hops. A few growers began producing for this market, and brewers for the most part were excited about what they bought, enough so that they began asking for dried whole-leaf hops and ultimately pellets. Along came craft expansion and a rapidly increasing demand for local hops. In recognition of the economic engine of the brewing and beverage industry, some states have reduced regulation and expanded the market opportunities for these industries. New York is one of the states where major changes have taken place, including a Farm Brewery Law that requires the use of increasing percentages of hops and agricultural inputs. This presentation will discuss what growers, processors, and brewers have done in the last 5 years to bring eastern hop production and processing to the quality standards that modern craft brewers expect. We are on our way, but not there yet.

Steve Miller is New York’s first hops specialist. He holds a B.S. degree from SUNY ESF and a master’s degree from Clemson University. He began his career at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station, working with diseases of vegetable crops, and worked as an educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension with horticulture and vegetable crop producers. In the last five years, Steve has worked exclusively with the hop and brewing industries to develop information that eastern growers need to produce a quality crop. He offers consultations with growers, newsletters, web resources, a hops scouting program, and farm visits, as well as field days and conferences for hop growers and brewers. He serves on the Governor’s Task Force on Brewing and Hops and as an advisor to Morrisville College’s Brewing Institute.

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