If local is as local does, our commitment to Maryland beer goes way beyond the bottle. We’re partnering with the University of Maryland on a beer agriculture initiative that’s the first-of-its-kind in the mid-Atlantic. And to start, the focus is on hops.
At its Western Maryland Research and Education Center, UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is studying 24 hop varieties over the next three to five years in our unique climate. Humidity, temperature and varying altitudes effect harvest dates, levels of acids and oil in the hops, and more. Harvest timing is especially-important to the fairly-fragile nature of hops, which are sensitive to moisture and susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. #snowflakes
To compliment, we’re funding hop processing equipment and providing UMD with resources to analyze and evaluate each test crop the program harvests. What’s more is that we’re putting them all into beer, which will expose you, our beloved consumer, to the full potential of local hops.
What appealed to us most about UMD’s approach is how its committed to both development of existing farms and providing breweries with the highest quality ingredients. In that vein, the results of this study will be published in an annual “hop growers guide” that will include best management practices for the growing and harvesting of hops specific to this region. And hey, if this inspires you to get your own poles in the ground, you can keep a copy on the nightstand, as well.
We’ll also be releasing the East Coast Hop Project Variety Pack next spring, which will feature three different beers, each one highlighting a different East Coast (you guessed it) hop farm and regionally-viable varieties. Our friends at Black Locust Hops and Pleasant Valley Hops have already signed on.
Learn more about the project when Bryan Butler, the mastermind behind these trials and tribulations, joins us on our podcast, Head Retention Radio, on Thursday, August 3.