Farmers meet brewers to talk hops and beer

RENSSELAERVILLE — Helderberg Brewery at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, and Strong Rope Brewery in Brooklyn partnered to host a farmer-brewer meet-up on Sunday, Oct. 28. Over 10 of the state’s largest hop growers met with a group of Brooklyn-based craft brewers to build relationships over beer and hops.

Jason Sahler, owner and head brewer of Strong Rope Brewery, had five beers on tap featuring all New York-grown hops. “As a New York State farm brewery, Strong Rope is required to use a minimum of 20-percent state-grown hops in every beer we make,” said Sahler in a release from the Carey Institute. “From the start, we set out to use 100 percent New York hops and malt, and hope to inspire others to do the same through our beer and through more events like this.”

The goal of the event was to get New York’s big growers in the same room with New York City craft brewers to establish new sales relationships, to talk shop about hop quality and varieties, and to renew the sense of community around New York State hops.

“I saw growers discussing what hop varieties did well in the 2018 harvest, brewers exchanging ideas on how to create unique hop character in their beers, and both parties eager to move forward as a strong collective,” said Kaylyn Kirkpatrick, Brewing Extension associate with the Department of Food Science at Cornell University, in the release.

New York State’s craft beverage sector already stands out nationally as a leader in local sourcing and there is room to improve and grow, the release said, noting that there are over 200 craft brewing operations with a farm brewery license that are required to use 20 percent hops and 20 percent all other ingredients — namely grain or malt — from New York State growers. This will increase to 60 percent in January 2019, expanding the market for growers and spurring farm breweries to build more localized supply chains.

Helderberg Brewery and Strong Rope Brewery plan to organize a similar event in spring 2019.

Helderberg Brewery, a New York State Farm Brewery and taproom at the not-for-profit Carey Institute, sources nearly all of its hops and grain from local farms and supports the development of New York’s farm-to-glass supply chain through workshops, networking events, and technical assistance.

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