Author: Tom Wilmes

Bees in the Hop Yard

Wild hops are a wind pollinated plant and, of the female hops planted commercially, the majority are grown from rhizomes or propagated from cuttings. Hops don’t have much to offer bees in terms of pollen or a nectar reward, so one might expect that bees would want nothing to do with Humulus lupulus. However, Doug Walsh, a professor of entomology at Washington State University in Prosser, Wash., has uncovered a somewhat surprising connection. Walsh worked with a graduate student to complete a two-year survey of bee populations in and around perennial crops in eastern Washington state, including in hop...

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A Growing Industry: Hops Outside the Pacific Northwest

While the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho account for approximately 97 percent of America’s total hop production, a small but growing number of hop yards have cropped up in regions outside of the Pacific Northwest. Chris Swersey, supply chain specialist with the Brewers Association, estimates there are at least 30 other states with some level of commercial hop acreage. Taken together, these will account for between 2 and 3 percent of the 2018 domestic crop. As small as the percentages are, it’s still a significant shift. “Five years ago, probably only 1/100th—or 1/1000th—of 1 percent of total hop...

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A Lupulin Revolution: As craft beer continues to disrupt the brewing industry, ground-level changes in hop yards bring new opportunity and challenges for growers, brokers, and brewers.

  Fred Geschwill is a third-generation hop grower in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. His farm isn’t huge by commercial standards—he and his brother grow about 260 acres of hops, along with broccoli, beans, corn, and other crops on their 1,200-acre spread—but his knowledge of and experience with the industry runs deep. Geschwill’s grandfather and namesake came over from Germany in 1924 and started the family farm in the early 1940s. Willamette Valley, with its rich soil, temperate climate, and abundant rainfall, resembled his homeland and provided ideal conditions for growing Humulus lupulus (aka the hop plant, whose flowers, known as...

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Inside Beer: Craft Maltsters Spur Roots Revival

One of the world’s oldest cultivated grains, barley used to be common in fields throughout the Lone Star state—until higher-yielding, higher-commodity crops, such as corn and sorghum, pushed it aside. Today, there are only a handful of Texas farmers who bother with barley, and just three small facilities in the state where it can be processed into a useable form for brewing. Blacklands Malt in Leander, Texas, was the first. Surprised to discover the industry had all but died out in the state, founder Brandon Ade partnered with researchers at Texas A&M University in 2012 to identify and develop...

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Inside Beer: Top 10 Trends Shaping Craft Beer

If there’s one constant in craft beer, it’s how quickly the landscape continues to change. From mergers and acquisitions to strategy and packaging, here’s a look at some trends that will continue to impact the industry into 2018 and beyond. Big beer flexes its muscle. Even casual beer drinkers can’t help but notice the buying spree that juggernauts such as AB InBev, MillerCoors, and Constellation Brands have been on. Cult favorites Wicked Weed and Funky Buddha are just the latest in a long line of breweries to hand over their craft credentials in favor of the distribution muscle, resources,...

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March/April 2018

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