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harvest

The 2018 release features 100% local Michigan hops

 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– According to a recent report from Hop Growers of America, your next craft beer is more likely than ever to contain Michigan hops. Founders Brewing Co. is celebrating the rise of local hops with this year’s release of Harvest Ale, a wet-hopped ale. An annual mainstay since the early-2000s, Harvest Ale is the brewery’s ode to the beauty of American hops grown in their backyard.

Founders proudly uses 100% locally-grown wet hops in this year’s batch of Harvest Ale, which speaks to the growth of quality in the local hop farming industry. Harvested as small flowers from trailing vines, hops add complex aromas and flavors to beer, and have distinct personalities that vary greatly from farm-to-farm. Founders sources from a number of local Michigan hop farms, including MI Local, Hop Head Farms, and Pure Mitten. To guarantee freshness, the brewing team works around the clock to transform the fresh hop cones into Harvest Ale. According to Brewmaster, Jeremy Kosmicki, “it is an arduous, tiring process,” but there are few beers he enjoys brewing more. Harvest Ale marks the return of fall, and the hands-on production process transforms the brewery into an aromatic, greenhouse-like space that is unique to this season.

Harvest Ale is available nationally in bottles through October 2018. Founders will also celebrate the return of the beer at their annual Harvest Party, a tribute to the American hop. Hosted at their Grand Rapids taproom on October 13, Harvest Party will feature live music, special food offerings and an impressive tap list. Harvest Ale is available in 4-packs of 12oz bottles and on draft across the brewery’s distribution footprint. It has a suggested retail price of $12.99/4-pack – please note that pricing will vary depending on the market.

 

MI local hops

TRAVERSE CITY, MICH — MI LOCAL HOPS has successfully completed their first hop harvest. Working with EMPIRE HOPS , MI Local harvested over 250 acres of Northern Michigan grown hops starting on August 23 and ending on September 15, 2016. The varieties harvested this season were Centennial, Cascade, Michigan Copper, Chinook, Crystal, Nugget, Willamette, and Brewer’s Gold. MI Local Hops is a 200 acre hop farm with full processing, pelletizing, packaging, and cold storage capabilities in Williamsburg, MI, six miles outside of Traverse City, MI. Administrative offices are located in downtown Traverse City, MI.

Video of the harvest and of the 30,000 square foot harvesting facility in full operation are featured on the homepage of the company’s new website. “We wanted to launch the site after we shot video footage of the harvest facility in operation” says Mike Moran, Sales and Marketing Manager. “The goal is to showcase the fact that we’ve made the investments in the infrastructure and quality standards that are being demanded by the craft brewing industry”. The website will feature information on available hop varieties, quality standards, and the craft beers that feature MI Local Hops.

MI local hops

The first breweries to feature MI Local Hops in this seasons wet hopped ales are Founders Brewing Company (Harvest Ale with Cascade hops), Short’s Brewing Company (Kind Ale with Chinook and Cascade hops), Stormcloud Brewing Company (24:30 with Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook hops), and Beards Brewery (Triumphance with Cascade hops). All beers will be on tap and available to the public on Wednesday October 12th at 7 Monks Taproom in downtown Traverse City, Michigan.

MI Local Hops farm is the largest hop operation east of the Rockies. Through a joint venture partnership with Empire Hops, which specializes in custom farming and custom trellis installation, the two businesses managed almost 350 acres and harvested over 250 acres of Northern Michigan grown hops in 2016.

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

 

The weather has gotten cooler, the leaves have started to change color, and the hops have been harvested; it must be fall in Northern Michigan. To commemorate the harvest season, breweries from throughout the Northwest region gathered in Empire on Saturday at the Empire Hops Festival.

The Empire Hops Festival exuded Northern Michigan charm and celebrated the success of the area’s harvest.

There were eleven breweries present at the festival, including: Workshop Brewing Company, Stormcloud Brewing Company, Lake Ann Brewing Company, Short’s and Right Brain Brewery. Many of the breweries at the festival use hops from the Empire Hops Farm throughout the year. Several breweries even brought wet-hopped brews or brews that contained local hops to the festival.

Local food vendors, including Art’s Tavern, Firedog Pizza, and Little Traverse Inn were at the festival. Black Jake and The Carnies as well as the Benzie Playboys kept the local spirit alive with their dynamic folk music.

The use of local hops has drastically increased in the region and throughout the state. The Empire Hops Farm, in Empire, recently boasted the largest hop crop in Michigan: 2,400 pounds per acre. And, earlier this year, MI Local Hops purchased over 200 acres in Acme to start yet another farm.

“I look forward to this one time of year,” said Stormcloud Head Brewer Brian Confer. “We drive up to Empire, get a coffee, and stop at the farm. The van smells great on the way back.”

Stormcloud brought three harvest brews to the Empire Hops Festival, all of which highlighted freshly picked local hops. The Harvest Saison, a favorite at the festival, was brewed with only Michigan products. The ingredients included freshly harvested Empire Hops (a proprietary Michigan only hop variety from the Empire Hops Farm), Michigan grown malt from Pilot Malt House, and a unique strain of yeast from Creature Culture Yeast Labs.

Northport Brewing Company was also at the festival, and is another brewery that uses local hops and ingredients throughout the year.

“When you think of a stout, you think of Ireland; an ale makes you think of England. We need beer that makes you think of Michigan,” said Northport Brewer and Owner Scott Cain.

In a region known for its rich agricultural yield, brews featured at festivals such as the Empire Hops Festival highlight and celebrate flavor profiles that can only be from Michigan. The pride for such brews was evident throughout the festival on Saturday. Brewers from the eleven breweries weren’t just seen behind their respective tables. Many could be seen building new partnerships, tasting each other’s brews, and celebrating together.

GRAND RAPIDS — The first meeting of a new statewide group of hop growers took place Saturday, with the Founders Firkin Fest as the background to the meeting.

Currently called the Michigan Hop Network (with the name subject to change), the group won’t be selling hops — rather it is focused on promoting hops in general as a crop for farmers.

Brian Tennis of Michigan Hop Alliance says the final articles of corporation are being firmed up and should be “good to go in a few weeks”.

At this point in time the group is hoping to double or triple hop production in order to secure federal crop protection funds.

Currently there are only 300 acres of hops being grown commercially in Michigan. Boosting that to 900 acres would enable farmers to avail of USDA crop insurance, a much needed benefit to entice potential farmers.

“Right now we’ve got 1% (of the total hop crop) in the United States,” said Tennis, mentioning the state should be reaching the goal of 3% by 2016.

Another function of the group will be to work on legislation to make hop growing more attractive. House Bill 5275, the Farm to Glass proposal, would give tax credits to Michigan breweries using all-Michigan ingredients in their brews. It would be phased in over several years. “It’s something that we’re still working on with the legislature in terms of tweaking the verbage that’s in there,” said Tennis.

“We know right now that the malt industry is so small that there’s going to be very few beers out there that are going to be 100% Michigan malt, Michigan yeast and Michigan hops but we’re already doing some right now,” he said. “The Mitten [Brewing Company] is one, we’ve done some stuff with Kuhnhenn, and we’ve done some stuff with Short’s.”

Michigan is home to two malt houses, a yeast culturing lab, many hop farms and fresh water that is suitable for brewing.

Tennis also stated there are currently farm chemicals being used in the Pacific Northwest that could be useful in Michigan but are not approved here yet. The new group will be lobbying for legalization, although it won’t necessarily be a Political Action Committee. The focus will be more on promoting the growth, proper processing and use of Michigan hops.

In the first article in a three-part series on brewing ingredients, the Humulus Lupulus is where the journey begins. As it turns out, the Michigan-exclusive Huma Lupa Licious from Short’s Brewing Company is in fact, not a name created from a certain Gene Wilder movie, but a name based off the species’ botanical designation. At this point, I may dive further into the scientific classification and mention that the hop is in the Cannabaceae family (sound familiar?), but what we’re really out to gain here is what the hop does in your beer.

Assuming we’re all familiar with standard hop packaging techniques, you’ve seen two numbers written on just about every package of hops out there. The first being alpha acid — think of this percentage as bittering potential. A low alpha acid hop such as Crystal might contain somewhere around 4.0% alpha acid, and something like Columbus might contain upwards of 15% alpha acid.

The main thing to think about here is exactly how much of a specific hop variety you’ll need to achieve a certain number of IBUs. Although some hops have different bittering characteristics than others, the actual flavor contribution of these acids isn’t necessarily going to be a huge factor.

Next stop — beta acids. This group of compounds is responsible for the effects of hop character in the long-term. Its role during the boil and presence in a fresh beer is rarely noticeable. However, over time beta acids may contribute a perceived bitterness as oxidation comes into play. For example, beer aging for 6-12 months in an oak barrel is not completely protected from oxygen due to the porosity of wood, so beta acids may influence the flavor of the beer as it is slowly exposed to minute amounts of oxygen over time.

The last few compounds contained in that sweet, sweet hop cone that determine the overall hop character are the essential oils. The essential oils are like the icing on the cake. They give us the fruity, resiny, piney, floral, noble or spicy character we all notice in the nose and finish of our favorite hoppy beers.

The oils we’re particularly concerned with are primarily humulene, myrcene and caryophyllene. Humulene is responsible for the “noble” character in hops like Hallertau or East Kent Golding. It becomes spicy and herbal when applied as a middle- or late-boil addition.

Myrcene lends the classic American hop chacarter found in Citra, Chinook and Amarillo.

Caryophllene, though typically low in concentration may add a spicy or herbal character.

A fourth oil, farnesene, is sometimes mentioned, but its contribution to flavor and aroma is often insignificant, and largely unknown. 

The final parameter to consider when building your hop profile is the origin of the hop. Unfortunately, we’d love to be able to purchase all of our hops from the various hop farmers in our Michigan backyards, but the geographical influence on a variety of hops is far too great, and our choices would be quite limited.

As far as American hops go, rumor has it that streets of the Pacific Northwest are paved with myrcene (okay, perhaps it’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea!). Massive citrus and pine character can be found in the hops that are grown there.

European varieties provide the opposite end of the spectrum, and should definitely be considered for your next saison recipe. Of course, things start to get interesting when you plant a European variety in U.S. soil. Look into a comparison between U.S. Saaz and Czech Saaz if you’d really like to watch your brain explode.

Lastly, I would be treating all of you unfairly if I were to fail to mention Austrialian and New Zealand hops. These beasts are like American hops on steroids! Prepare your tongue for the boldest, brightest fruit flavors you’ve ever experienced. Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin are positively worth investigating. 

Now that you have a wealth of information regarding various compounds in hops, you’ll surely have no trouble finding a date to help keep you warm during this unrelenting, midwest winter. Just kidding — this information won’t help you at all there! However, you will be able to select your hops with a bit more intention in your upcoming recipes, which may indeed keep you warm this winter, depending on the starting gravity of said recipe. Refer to this incredibly handy chart when you’re designing your next beer. Good luck out there, folks — you’ve got a lot of pale ales to brew.

In the first article in a three-part series on brewing ingredients, the Humulus Lupulus is where the journey begins. As it turns out, the Michigan-exclusive Huma Lupa Licious from Short’s Brewing Company is in fact, not a name created from a certain Gene Wilder movie, but a name based off the species’ botanical designation. At this point, I may dive further into the scientific classification and mention that the hop is in the Cannabaceae family (sound familiar?), but what we’re really out to gain here is what the hop does in your beer.

Assuming we’re all familiar with standard hop packaging techniques, you’ve seen two numbers written on just about every package of hops out there. The first being alpha acid — think of this percentage as bittering potential. A low alpha acid hop such as Crystal might contain somewhere around 4.0% alpha acid, and something like Columbus might contain upwards of 15% alpha acid.

The main thing to think about here is exactly how much of a specific hop variety you’ll need to achieve a certain number of IBUs. Although some hops have different bittering characteristics than others, the actual flavor contribution of these acids isn’t necessarily going to be a huge factor.

Next stop — beta acids. This group of compounds is responsible for the effects of hop character in the long-term. Its role during the boil and presence in a fresh beer is rarely noticeable. However, over time beta acids may contribute a perceived bitterness as oxidation comes into play. For example, beer aging for 6-12 months in an oak barrel is not completely protected from oxygen due to the porosity of wood, so beta acids may influence the flavor of the beer as it is slowly exposed to minute amounts of oxygen over time.

The last few compounds contained in that sweet, sweet hop cone that determine the overall hop character are the essential oils. The essential oils are like the icing on the cake. They give us the fruity, resiny, piney, floral, noble or spicy character we all notice in the nose and finish of our favorite hoppy beers.

The oils we’re particularly concerned with are primarily humulene, myrcene and caryophyllene. Humulene is responsible for the “noble” character in hops like Hallertau or East Kent Golding. It becomes spicy and herbal when applied as a middle- or late-boil addition.

Myrcene lends the classic American hop chacarter found in Citra, Chinook and Amarillo.

Caryophllene, though typically low in concentration may add a spicy or herbal character.

A fourth oil, farnesene, is sometimes mentioned, but its contribution to flavor and aroma is often insignificant, and largely unknown. 

The final parameter to consider when building your hop profile is the origin of the hop. Unfortunately, we’d love to be able to purchase all of our hops from the various hop farmers in our Michigan backyards, but the geographical influence on a variety of hops is far too great, and our choices would be quite limited.

As far as American hops go, rumor has it that streets of the Pacific Northwest are paved with myrcene (okay, perhaps it’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea!). Massive citrus and pine character can be found in the hops that are grown there.

European varieties provide the opposite end of the spectrum, and should definitely be considered for your next saison recipe. Of course, things start to get interesting when you plant a European variety in U.S. soil. Look into a comparison between U.S. Saaz and Czech Saaz if you’d really like to watch your brain explode.

Lastly, I would be treating all of you unfairly if I were to fail to mention Austrialian and New Zealand hops. These beasts are like American hops on steroids! Prepare your tongue for the boldest, brightest fruit flavors you’ve ever experienced. Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin are positively worth investigating. 

Now that you have a wealth of information regarding various compounds in hops, you’ll surely have no trouble finding a date to help keep you warm during this unrelenting, midwest winter. Just kidding — this information won’t help you at all there! However, you will be able to select your hops with a bit more intention in your upcoming recipes, which may indeed keep you warm this winter, depending on the starting gravity of said recipe. Refer to this incredibly handy chart when you’re designing your next beer. Good luck out there, folks — you’ve got a lot of pale ales to brew.

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