Starting the Hop Farm

A big part of what I want Strong Rope Brewery to be is a brewery that uses as much local ingredients as possible, from hops to malt to fresh fruits and herbs at the local markets. Its important that I am able to create beers, from dry hopped IPA's to Lavender Blackberry Blonde Ales, and not have to constantly go 3000 miles for the raw ingredients. By utilizing local ingredients I can cut down on the carbon footprint of the brewery by not shipping those ingredients from all over the world, while also fostering relationships and helping local farms to take root in the North East.

With that being said, this past memorial day I had a chance to help get a test plot for hops started back home outside of Rochester, NY. My brother, who has been a landscaper for a number of years now, has taken an interest in the brewing industry, but from the side of the raw ingredients, and this past spring decided to get a small test plot going of 20 plants with 4 different kinds of hops (Nugget, Cascade, Centennial and Willamette).

New York used to be one of the major hop grown regions in the world but was decimated by a blight and prohibition in the early 20th century. Subsequently the hops and farms moved out west to Oregon and Washington, where they have had a strong hold ever since. But now with craft beer growing faster than ever and the desire for local ingredients increases hops farms and yards are hopping up (hehe) all over New York, from the rolling hills of Western and Central New York with Climbing Bines and Foothill Farms, to the Coastal farms of Long Island with Condzella Hops and Farm to Pint.

We were able to create the test plot utilizing materials that were left over on the farm. And while the trellis system is a little unconventional, we dont go quite as high (only about 10 feet) as a normal trellis system, we were able to save on material cost and reuse what we had lying around, from the Base poles to the rebar posts holding the twine. And we will be able to determine if the soil makeup is a good fit to grow the hops. So while this test plot may seem a little odd, it is only the beginning.  And as you can see from the below gallery it is a family affair.