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hop harvest beer tour

MARSHALL, MI –​ Michigan ranks fourth in the United States in terms of total acreage
dedicated to hops, one of four main ingredients in craft beer.

Many of those acres will be in full harvest mode at the end of August and early
September.  In collaboration the Moga family, owners of High Five Hop Farm in Marshall,
along with Dark Horse Brewing Co. and Territorial Brewing Co., West Michigan Beer Tours will
hold the Hop Harvest Beer Tour on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The highlight of the afternoon will be a visit to the small family farm where Marty Moga
and his family grow a variety of hops for a few Michigan breweries.  Participants will tour
the fields and learn more about the growing and harvesting process, while also samples
Michigan beer using High Five Hop Farm hops.

The tour will begin with registration from noon to 1 p.m. at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill
inside the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.  The bus will depart for Dark
Horse Brewing Co. for a pint and to hear how the brewery works with High Five Hops
Farm on some of its beer.

Following the stint at High Five Hop, the event will stop by Territorial Brewing Co. for a
series of samples and learn how hops are utilized in the brewery’s German-inspired
beers, before returning to downtown Kalamazoo.

Discounted hotel rooms at the Radisson Plaza Hotel are also available through this
custom link: http://www.radisson.com/westmichiganbeertours.

For more information, go to www.westmichiganbeertours.com.

For hop heads, the months of September and October become a palate-testing quasi-holiday.

Many breweries are releasing their hop-heavy beers this time of year as the hop harvest has come to fruition. Of the four main ingredients in craft beer, none boast the rabid following of hops, or humulus lupulus. West Michigan Beer Tours, in collaboration with JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Hop Yard of Kent County, will showcase some of the adventurous flavors of the season with the Hop Harvest Beer Tour on Saturday, Aug. 5.

The tour takes place near the peak of hop harvest season when farms are in full picking and processing mode. It will begin with registration from noon to 1 p.m. at the JW Marriott, where guests are encouraged to order a drink and lunch at the Six.One.Six. The bus will depart at 1 p.m. with visits to Rockford Brewing Co., the Hopyards of Kent County — the family-owned hop farm in Greenville — and Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in Ada.

Guests will receive a pint or samples, as well as a meet-and-greet or production tour, at the two brewery stops as part of the tour. We’ll learn more about Michigan’s burgeoning hop industry and how breweries utilize hops to achieve a variety of flavors and aromas.

The visit to the Greenville hop farm will be led by owner Pam Miller. The visit includes a sensory test, tour of harvesting facility and a tasting of local beer using the farm’s hops.

The JW Marriott’s Beer City USA Package will also be available for guests opting for overnight accommodations.

For more information, go to www.westmichiganbeertours.com.

 

Michigan Hop Alliance

What differs in taste and aroma depending on where it is grown, and is squeezed to determine if it’s ready to be harvested? Hops, of course!

Hops are a key ingredient in the brewing of beer, and the United States has become the largest hop producer in the world. Traditionally, brewers might have ordered hops from large Pacific Northwest operations. However, Michigan hop production has boomed and our state now ranks fourth in the country for hop production.

Michigan Hop Alliance

Brian Tennis

Among the many hop farms in Michigan, the Michigan Hop Alliance was one of the first. Roughly ten years ago, Brian Tennis and his wife, Amy, bought a plot of land hidden away in the little town of Omena. Originally intended as a camping property, they soon realized its potential as farm land. Cherry trees were already present on the property, so that’s where they started.

However, they soon discovered cherries could be difficult to maintain. Cherries can be highly sensitive to unfavorable weather patterns: late Spring frosts, high winds, hail, etc.

“Cherries only bloom once, so if something happens, they’re done. Hops can bloom again, so if something does happen, they have a second chance,” said Tennis.

It is along the 45th parallel that ideal growing conditions for hops can be found. The 45th parallel, upon which Tennis’ farm rests, serves as the halfway point between the Equator and North Pole. The 45th provides the right amount of daylight and water for hops to thrive.

“We really have a microclimate here: with the Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, and our rainfall,” said Tennis.

One variety currently flourishing on the farm is Summit hops. This dwarf variety grows on shorter ropes, and the hops grow in compact clusters. Summit is typically grown in the Pacific Northwest; Tennis is experimenting with how well it’ll do in Northern Michigan. He’s also experimenting with a variety of non-commercial hops that are typically grown in France, Japan, and Kazakhstan.

“We have over twenty different hops, and the Hop Alliance has really become a trial land for myself and other farmers,” said Tennis.

Michigan Hop Alliance often works with other farmers throughout the process to grow, pick, dry, and/or pelletize the hops. In many cases, Michigan Hop Alliance will also market the hop, aiding the farmers along the entire process.

The growing process starts with cleanly propagated plants, consistent maintenance, and an organic approach. Tennis even has sheep on hand to help maintain the bottom of the hop bine; by eating growth at the bottom, the sheep naturally provide the bines with proper air flow, decreasing mildew and promoting further growth.

Michigan Hop Alliance

And, as we sneak into September, the hops are nearly ready for harvest.

“If you squeeze them, and they bounce back, they’re not quite ready. You also want to make sure the lupulin is schoolbus yellow,” Tennis explained.

The hops Tennis tends to are found in some of your favorite beers. The Michigan Hop Alliance works closely with breweries throughout the state, including Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, Short’s, and Stormcloud.

michigan hop

OMENA — Streetcar Partners Management, LLC has purchased a controlling interest in New Mission Organics and Michigan Hop Alliance. The entities will be merged and retain the name Michigan Hop Alliance under the Streetcar umbrella of companies.

Brian and Amy Tennis founded New Mission Organics in 2005 and were among the first hop farmers in Michigan, planting their first acre on the Leelanau Peninsula in 2008. They have since grown to become a leader in innovative hop production in the Midwest with more than 20 hop varieties in production, including several being grown for the first time on a commercial scale in North America.

The Tennis’s formed the Michigan Hop Alliance in 2010 to process their own hops, as well as hops from farms across northern Michigan. They have assisted dozens of hop farm startups as the Michigan hop industry has grown—sharing knowledge, equipment, and facilities. Both ventures will continue and expand operations under the new Michigan Hop Alliance tag at the Omena farm location. Brian Tennis will assume the role of President and Director of Marketing for Michigan Hop Alliance (MHA) going forward.

“Amy and I could not be happier to announce this new venture with Streetcar and begin a new chapter in our lives,” said Brian Tennis. “With our new partners we will be able to grow and innovate much more rapidly and reach brewers and farmers not only all over Michigan but across North America and service our International clients more effectively.”

The new partnership will allow for an increase in hop production—featuring even more varieties, expanded hop processing capabilities, and an expanded greenhouse operation that will supply clean hop plants for MHA and fellow hop farmers. In addition to the new partnership with Streetcar, MHA has agreed to become the exclusive distributor for the hop farming and processing group Old Mission Hop Exchange of nearby Grand Traverse County.

“We are excited to partner with Michigan Hop Alliance, one of the premier hop operations in the Midwest,” said Mike Collins of Streetcar. “We believe there is tremendous room for growth in Michigan’s hop industry. Michigan craft beer is booming and it’s only natural in a state as agriculturally-diverse as Michigan that a local hop industry should develop to help support it.”

Streetcar’s other holdings include the Commerce Twp based American Expedition Vehicles, real estate development projects in Northport and the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, and Baia Estate, a Northport based vineyard and winery located just a few miles from the farm of New Mission Organics.

Streetcar plans to establish synergy between the hop operation and its Northport agricultural development. Established in 2015 on 80 acres in the heart of the Leelanau, Baia Estate will grow to include a vineyard, hard cider apple orchards, additional hopyards, brewing and cider-making facilities, and a tasting room featuring estate wines, beer, and cider. In 2015 Baia began bottling Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Merlot from sourced grapes