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FALL 2011
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Around the Quad

Tapping into a Revitalized Hop Industry

By Amanda Garris

Credit: Provided

Dr. David Gent of the USDA talks about downy mildew with growers at a harvester demonstration in August.

The time is right for a hops renaissance in New York state: Microbrew consumption in the Northeast and the number of breweries in New York are on the rise. Many breweries are committed to using local foods, reducing their carbon footprint, and keeping jobs in the state.

To help them, Steve Miller, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s first hops specialist, will lead a statewide effort to expand local production of hops, one of beer’s key ingredients. Hops are vigorous, 20-foot climbing plants that produce flowers, or “cones,” that shape a beer’s character, infusing it with bitterness and aromas that can range from citrus to spicy or floral.

Miller is developing hops workshops and resources with a team of researchers from across the Northeast to identify the best varieties and production methods for hops in this part of the country.

In the meantime, the proposed “Preserve, Produce, and Grow” legislation package would create a special license to allow farmers to brew and sell up to 15,000 barrels of beer on their property if they use a certain percentage of New York state–grown products.