Local hops harvesting

Connecting local hops with a local brewery allows participants to have a deeper connection to their local food systems.

Connecting communities to local food is becoming more and more common as consumers’ interest in knowing where their food comes from grows. Restaurants and markets of all kinds are purchasing local foods for a number of reasons: some do it because local food is fresher (local food requires less distance for travel and shipping); others do it so they themselves can feel more assured that their food is coming from a reliable source they know personally.

A local partnership between hops farmers and craft brewers brought together entrepreneurs, educators, farmers and a community of people to help harvest one of craft beer’s important ingredients – hops! American Patriot Hops, the local hops producer and host for the event, organized the harvest for Brewer’s Gold- a specific hop commonly used in lighter ales.

ThumbCoast Brewing Company in Port Huron, Michigan will use 50 pounds of Brewer’s Gold for their Harvest Ale due this fall. Photos below demonstrate the stages in yesterday’s harvest process.

American Patriot Hops has jumped on board at the right time for hops production in Michigan, as the craft brew industry is growing rapidly throughout the state. House Bill 5275 “Farm to Glass” was introduced early this year and would offer tax credits for brewers brewing and selling beer in Michigan within a specific regulations and timeframes.

One of the discussions involved connecting consumers to local brew by providing an opportunity to learn about hops by helping to harvest them. By doing so this can build a greater awareness of the specialty crop and careful craftsmanship for growing it as well as appreciation of it in the craft beers it makes its way into. According to Michigan State University Extension, allowing consumers the opportunity to engage directly with the harvest of local food, at U-pick fruit farms or, in our case yesterday, harvesting hops for local beer production, can teach consumers about their local food systems.

Hops strung up

The hops are strung up, which are then brought down and hand picked

inside the hops flower

Inside the hops flower

bringing the hops down

Bringing the hops down

hops on the plastic

Hops on the plastic