Condzella Hops

The Farmers Bounty

New York's farmers markets are in full swing and with that comes the bounty of the local countrysides or sometimes from our surrounding rooftops. Strong Rope focuses on using as many local ingredients as possible, and while that usually includes hops and grain, our seasonal beers experiment with the amazing harvests from local farmers.

Not only are the markets a great location to pick up fresh meats, vegetables and fruits, they also are an amazing place to inspire Strong Rope Brewery's next beer. Last month, I took home the Brewer's Choice award at the HomeBrewklyn Homebrew Competition and Festival here in Brooklyn with my Farmer's Summer Brown Ale, a chocolatey brown ale brewed with basil and fermented with organic raspberries.

Walking through the market this past week, the sour cherries were screaming to me and they were saying "WE WANT TO BE MADE INTO AN EVER SO DELICIOUS SOUR CHERRY IMPERIAL STOUT", to which I replied "chill out cherries, your wish is my command." So keep an eye out in the near future for Strong Rope's, yet to be named, sour cherry and cacao nib imperial stout! 

Finally if browsing the local farmers markets stalls wasn't enough, last year Governor Cuomo put a law in effect creating a new class of license for brewers, the farm brewery license. This new license, which hopes to increase demand for locally grown farm products as well as expand economic development and tourism, allows breweries some leeway with the previous tax requirements as well as what can be sold at the brewery in terms of pints and tastings. Of course the breweries will need to use at least 20% New York state grown hops as well as 20% for the rest of their ingredients. When the time comes Strong Rope will be filing for the farm brewery license utilizing local ingredients from hop farms like Condzella and Farm to Pint and sourcing malt from FarmHouse Malt. Exciting times!

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.