Fact: Millions of people all over this big, beautiful nation of ours enjoy craft beer. Other fact: People are really into locally grown ingredients. Theory: Craft beer made with locally grown ingredients would be a huge hit. We’re gonna be rich!
Sadly, we’re not the first ones to have this idea. Farmers and agriculture experts in Connecticut are already on it.
Hops, a beer ingredient that’s particularly important for hoppy styles, like IPAs, haven’t been grown in Connecticut for more than a century. But farmers there are once again growing them, and local breweries are happy to “buy local” instead of having hops shipped from across the country or overseas.
“This seems like an obvious idea,” you might be saying. “Why did it take so long?” (Easy there, Mr. Snarky.)
Growing hopes is hard, you see. Hops are a labor-intensive crop. They need well-drained soil. The vines can grow up to 20 feet tall, requiring a sturdy system. If hops haven’t been grown in an area for w while, like in Connecticut, it takes a lot of trail and error to see which varieties thrive. Oh, and hop plants need three to five years to fully mature.
The good news? hops are also valuable, selling for as much as $30 a pound.
Today the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho grow 97.8% of the hops in the United States. But maybe not for long. Beyond Connecticut, farmers in states including Indiana, New York and Maine are getting their hop-growing operations up and running.
As longa s we keep drinking IPAs and loving all things local, it’s a trend that is likely to continue.