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Old 08-14-2009, 03:34 PM   #1
HoppyDaze's Avatar
Dec 2008
Wilsonville, OR
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Oregon craft breweries snagging local hops

MOUNT ANGEL, Ore. (AP) -- Jeff DeSantis grew up about 10 miles from the hop yards that now supply the major ingredient for his craft brewery.

Because the hops from Annen Farms were contracted to Anheuser-Busch and other major beer distributors, however, DeSantis couldn't access the aromatic product.

That story played out again and again throughout the Northwest where Northwest craft brewers flourished independent of the hop industry.

Today that is changing.

As Anheuser-Busch InBev scales back on contract acreage, craft brewers are snatching up the hops. Today, many growers are producing hops on contract for the micro-brewery industry.

Some craft brewers even are getting involved in hop production.

"Some brewers are coming to fields and checking on vines a few days before picking," said Nancy Frketich, administrator of the Oregon Hop Commission. "They're really getting involved, since they're so close."

Other brewers are taking ownership of hops immediately after farmers harvest the crop, before the hops are dried.

Rogue Ales even leased a hop farm in Independence, Ore., recently, taking total control of its hops.

The trend inspired Mount Angel grower John Annen, along with DeSantis, to develop a baler capable of producing 15-pound bales to better serve craft brewers.

The smaller bales -- Anheuser-Busch typically buys 200-pound bales -- allow craft brewers to buy a smaller amount of hops -- micro-purchases, one might say.

"We couldn't use 200 pounds," said DeSantis, who owns Seven Brides Brewing in Silverton, Ore. "The smaller quantities give us versatility with our hops."

"It also gives craft brewers a chance to try a certain hop, and see if they like it," Frketich said.

The trend is being embraced by DeSantis, who for years was frustrated that he was unable to buy from his neighbor.

DeSantis said that in the past he typically purchased hops from a dealer. Many times, he said, he didn't know where the hops came from.

"There was a huge disconnect for years," Annen said regarding the relationship between the Northwest's burgeoning craft brewery industry and the area's hop industry.

Annen, who formerly grew strictly for large beer distributors, today grows hops for the craft industry.

The change has prompted Annen to add several varieties to his production. Today he produces 10 different commercial varieties, including several specialty hops. Within three years, Annen said, he'll be growing 18 different commercial varieties on his 275 trellised acres.

Annen plans to continue to produce hops for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Most of his hops, though, will go to local craft brewers.

All of DeSantis's hops come from Annen, making his beer a distinctly Oregon product.

"It's Oregon beer, made from Oregon hops, grown by an Oregon grower and it's being sold to an Oregon consumer," he said.

"Plus, we are able to ensure Oregon growers are getting fair market value for their hops," he said.
Lets hope this trend continues in the Northwest...This should help some of the good beer makers keep their materials costs down a little bit.

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Old 08-14-2009, 03:41 PM   #2
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Feb 2008
Chico, CA
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I love to hear stories like this. Just like the SN article I posted, it seems like this can really bring some interesting "regional" variety to microbreweries. I think it's great to support local farmers, local breweries, and you get a very unique taste in a brew by using locally grown ingredients. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 08-14-2009, 04:11 PM   #3
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Jun 2009
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Hell yes!!! keep it local. It has been a real issue here in the NW with AB gobbling up all the good hop acreage and leaving the local boys to just pick up whats left. My buddy is a harvester (not hops) and he hears all the farmers talk about the big change over and how its actually helping with their business. A I dont blame the farmers for selling to AB, but with them out of hte way and having so many micros in this area I hope that contracts are made and all the local breweries get local hops! If AB tries to come crawling back i hope they just get to choose from whats left after all the local farmers get their share!!!!
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Old 08-14-2009, 04:35 PM   #4
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Apr 2009
Southern Oregon
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Awesome story.

I have been seriously thinking about turning my family's vacant 5 acre's into a hop farm.

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Old 08-14-2009, 08:59 PM   #5
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Aug 2009
Barron, Wisconsin
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This is a growing trend. There are several farmers in my area who have planted or are considering planting hops for the local market. Just wish there were some processors close by.

In Wisconsin we suffer from humid summers which can cause powdery mildew on the vines. Wisconsin used to be a big producer but most of the production moved to WA and OR due to better growing conditions. Still lots of wild hops around here left over from the good ol days.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:25 PM   #6
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Jan 2008
Richland, WA
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Awesome to hear I've been wanting to get my father in-law into the buisiness as he lives in the Oregon hop growing area. I think if you could get a contract with a bunch of local breweries you could make it successful.
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