Wild hops upstate ny

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Nedrowjoe

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I live in upstate by in the syracuse area. My wife and I just bought a house with our 2 sons, we have a couple acres. My plan was to have a few chickens and a nice garden, while investigating a grove of sumac trees that I planned on eradicating I noticed vines, later discovered as bines, growing all over the sumac. I thought maybe grapes, then I see these little yellow green bud looking things, HOLY COW ITS HOPS! I took some down and noticed a deep yellow substance and it smelled like a nice floral ipa aroma. I contacted Cornell university, they were really excited, which was surprising because it was the hop co-op I was talking to, I assumed they got these calls all the time. The girl said that they were probably a cross strain and likely planted 150+ years ago. She said they may be an unknown or ferral variety. I had so many projects at the house I couldn't really pay attention to the hops, unfortunately I probably wasted hundreds of pounds of hops, i still to this day haven't found the end of them. I feel like this opprtunity has hit me square in the face, and I want to maximize the potential, I would love to find that they are in fact feral, and I have the opportunity to grow cultivate and sell these hops named for my sons, I couldn't imagine a cooler legacy to leave. Even if they are a named variety that would be cool too. They obviously have to be a pretty hearty variety since they are partially in a power right of way and old railroad line, they have probably been mowed down hundreds of times and are growing strong. Most people I talk to say hops are delicate, they need this and that, and a silver spoon to grow properly, these have been abused for decades and are growing wonderfully, which I figure is a desireable trait. And they smell amazing! Like a good ip a or maybe a more illegal cousin of hops, lol. I am wondering what you all would do in my position? I know you can't smell through a computer but are wild hops, or old hop varieties desireable? The closest old variety that I think they look like are english cluster, but if I understand that correctly that cluster hops are not really one variety, they may be several different varieties crossed.

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dpeters

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Try brewing a lighter beer (smash-single malt and single hop)with them guessing that they have AA of about 6 or 7ish going a little lighter on the bittering just in case and then taste it. I personally would dry the hops first but that is just my preference as I seem to pickup a grassy note when using fresh hops. Also have some experienced brewers try it and get their feedback. You should get pretty close if they are a common hop. Guessing that if they have been there a long time I would start off with comparing them to a beer brewed with Cluster. There must be some type of genetic testing that could be done but I am sure that would cost big bucks.
 

Aristotelian

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Cool discovery!

Fall is usually a good time to plant perennials. You might dig up some roots and plant them in some other locations to see how they do in the spring.

What did the Cornell people say? Is there any way for them to identify the species?

I agree with giving some to a local brewer. Even if you have not discovered a native species, they could at least do a couple of brews in your family name.
 

nagmay

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First things first: Congratulations! I have been breeding hops for a few years and would be excited to be in your position.

Have you found any males? Rather than cones, they produce clusters of small pods that open into hundreds of tiny white flowers (see attached). Alternatively, do the cones have seeds? Why? Well if the hops have been spreading by seed, then you absolutely have a new, feral variety on your hands. In fact, you have many - since hops don't grow true from seed - each will be a bit different.

If there only seems to be one giant plant, I would bet that it is an older, known variety. Perhaps a rhizome fell off a train car on those tracks you speak of. In this case, I would look into getting the hops lab tested. This will tell you the acid levels and help you get closer to identifying what you have.

In any case, keep me informed and please post some pictures of the plant!

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KVANTAN

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I'm in nearby CT. Happy to take a few ounces off you and return the favor with some of my own finished product ;-)
 

GHBWNY

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Thought you might find this interesting:

From New York State: America’s Former Hop Capital

By Joe Baur

"Flash back a century and that was... when Central New York ruled the hop industry. The state attained national leadership in hop production in 1849, and was selling over three million pounds annually by 1855.

Sadly, the Empire State lost its footing in the hops market when Prohibition slayed all things beer related in the country. A killer fungus in the early 20th century also played its own role in putting the nail in the coffin of New York’s hop industry."
 
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Nedrowjoe

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Try brewing a lighter beer (smash-single malt and single hop)with them guessing that they have AA of about 6 or 7ish going a little lighter on the bittering just in case and then taste it. I personally would dry the hops first but that is just my preference as I seem to pickup a grassy note when using fresh hops. Also have some experienced brewers try it and get their feedback. You should get pretty close if they are a common hop. Guessing that if they have been there a long time I would start off with comparing them to a beer brewed with Cluster. There must be some type of genetic testing that could be done but I am sure that would cost big bucks.
Thanks guy! Cornell said to find the rhizomes and replant in late February/March. They mentioned genetic testing, and in the same breathe expensive, lol. From what it sounds to me my best bet would be to get a few good brewers making beer with my hops, and get the word out, make a little money and in the meantime I prob shouldn't give away any rhizomes (stingy maybe?). Then pay for genetic testing, and hopefully have a good hop with a cool story. I will get some pics up soon, unfortunately everyone picked their hops last week in August, mine sound to be past prime, though I did find some portions that seemed to have some decent comes left.
 

fpweeks

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i remember see a place in the north west that will run an IBU test on a bottle of beer for just a few bucks, maybe 10.

That would at least give you an idea of the AA %
 

MSAstoria

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Awesome! Like GHBWNY posted above, NY (Mohawk Valley esp) used to be the nation's hop growing capital. Hops are not delicate - they thrive on neglect and abuse, so it's not crazy to imagine they've just been running wild for 150+ years. Hell, my backyard hops need to be constantly slashed and hacked to keep them from overgrowing the lot next door.

There's some interest in local hops, and in reviving the NY hop economy upstate. That's probably why Cornell wants to figure out the parentage. If nothing else, if you have room, propagate the rhizomes a time or two and experiment with them. There are a million downstate hipsters who would love to critique a local NY IPA.
 

brian4508

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We are a commercial farm (3 acres) in Fabius. If you need any advice, let me know!
 
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Nedrowjoe

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Awesome, thanks, I appreciate that, and btw my uncle is knoxie
 

B-Hoppy

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Thanks guy! Cornell said to find the rhizomes and replant in late February/March. They mentioned genetic testing, and in the same breathe expensive, lol. From what it sounds to me my best bet would be to get a few good brewers making beer with my hops, and get the word out, make a little money and in the meantime I prob shouldn't give away any rhizomes (stingy maybe?). Then pay for genetic testing, and hopefully have a good hop with a cool story. I will get some pics up soon, unfortunately everyone picked their hops last week in August, mine sound to be past prime, though I did find some portions that seemed to have some decent comes left.
Oil analysis is another way in figuring out what variety it is or is close to. Apparently the USDA keeps a data base of oil profiles of many different varieties and once the oil is extracted from the cones, it's run through a gas chromatograph, at least that's what they did for me a while back: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/person/2450/hopcultivars/21679.html A fellow from around Syracuse (Plainville?) gave me some cuttings and I ended up sending some cuttings I made from them out to Corvallis. Also, you can dig up a few chunks of rhizome now and transplant to your property. They'll form roots until the soil freezes and take off for you next spring. This is exactly how I got my start back in the late 80's with some wild ones found west of Rochester. Upstate is full of leftovers, haha!
 
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Nedrowjoe

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So, I haven't told many friends about it, I've been carefully deciding what to do. Last night I decided to get a hold of a friend that has more more land, to tell him the good news and to see if he was interested in getting in on this with me, he sends me back a picture of this! What are the freakin chances the same time I find hops so does he, crazy the way the universe goes sometimes!

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pshankstar

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What a great find! I'm going to search my grandparents property later this year to see if they have wild hops growing too. They have 89 acres in the Souther Tier of NY. What harm is there to see what might be growing, right?

@Nedrowjoe, I live about an hour or so away from you. If you're interested in parting with some of these hops this fall (2016) I will be more than happy to make some home brew and bottle some up in return for you to enjoy. I think the idea of doing a SMASH brew would be the best bet! If you're interested please let me know.
 

broadbill

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Cool find, but unlikely to be the commercial success you expect them to be. If they are wild/ferral they have not undergone the extensive genetic breeding that have produced today's hop varieties. This means they probably do not produce the amount/type of hop oil desired by brewers, grow well, produce cones consistently/reliably, tolerance to insecticides/pesticides...and all the rest of the things that make a plant strain a good commercial crop.

If they were planted by someone, fell off the train, etc. then they are mostly likely a commercial variety (Cascade, Nugget, Cluster, etc.) and already in wide use in the industry. Again, not exactly a goldmine..if you are interested in hop farming you are better off buying recently cultivated rhizome for your farm.

Again, cool find, they are something special to you....definitely brew some beer with them, give them away, etc.
 

Treeguy

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So, I haven't told many friends about it, I've been carefully deciding what to do. Last night I decided to get a hold of a friend that has more more land, to tell him the good news and to see if he was interested in getting in on this with me, he sends me back a picture of this! What are the freakin chances the same time I find hops so does he, crazy the way the universe goes sometimes!
Hi, I joined specifically because I found this thread after discovering some wild/feral hops in upstate NY also! These were at the edge of a farm field in Spafford. (pic attached) Probably not completely wild/native, as they're near a house and a barn that are both >100 years old, so the area has been under cultivation for at least that long. But it's been at least several decades since hops have been intentionally planted here. No traces of hop posts, but I don't know how hops were raised in the mid-1800's upstate NY hops heyday?
I'd like to leave some of the original plant in place to see how much longer it survives in place, but I'm also curious to try growing some in my yard - I'll probably try splitting the rhizome later this fall.
Curious to hear what you and others in this area have done with wild/feral hops you've found!

wild hops.jpg
 

B-Hoppy

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I stumbled on my first sighting in about '88 a few miles west of Rochester. It was probably late Sept early Oct as everything was brown and toasty by then. Just followed one of the vines back to the ground and got as much of a chunk of rhizome as I could (trying to minimize damage). A shallow trench was dug in a cornfield across the street from where I lived and I buried it. The following spring I came back and dug it up and transplanted to the property I had just recently bought. This pic is probably two years later when I came back to close on the house (moved back to Ohio) and it had trained itself up the telephone pole, haha!

NY Hops.jpeg
 

Apimyces

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Cool find, but unlikely to be the commercial success you expect them to be. If they are wild/ferral they have not undergone the extensive genetic breeding that have produced today's hop varieties. This means they probably do not produce the amount/type of hop oil desired by brewers, grow well, produce cones consistently/reliably, tolerance to insecticides/pesticides...and all the rest of the things that make a plant strain a good commercial crop.

If they were planted by someone, fell off the train, etc. then they are mostly likely a commercial variety (Cascade, Nugget, Cluster, etc.) and already in wide use in the industry. Again, not exactly a goldmine..if you are interested in hop farming you are better off buying recently cultivated rhizome for your farm.

Again, cool find, they are something special to you....definitely brew some beer with them, give them away, etc.
Hops aren't corn. They've been the result of hardly any breeding, and mostly the subject of a single breeding strategy. Most hops are centuries old and were not intentionally bred. Most other hops are F1 crosses of one of the previous group of hops. Few hops are the result of successive selections for specific traits. Also no resistance to pesticides are bred into hops (not overly useful anyways, given how their grow, as herbicides can already be used on the rows).

I'm not saying that every wild plant will be an automatic success, far from it. But I find people overestimate what it takes to make a "good commercial hop". The large breeding operations, for the most part, never really did anything fancy, they just did the same simple things anyone does, but with a lot more repetition. If you take a Cascade x wild male, and grow the seedling for brewing, you are keeping the best out of 1. You turn to the big operations, and they'll take that same Cascade x that same wild male, and grow 10000 seedlings, to keep the best out of 10000. Odds are they'll have at least some pretty interesting offspring in that batch, but they are doing the exact same thing you are, and you might very well get a better hybrid than they will. It's chance. You can buy 10000 tickets for the lottery and still "lose" to some guy that bought only one. All one can do is work to increase one's odds of success, but there is no guarantee that any extra investment put towards this end will pay off, nor that one who put minimal investment will never attain the desired result.

That said, I'm always skeptical of "wild" females, if isolated. Good chance of it being a feral abandoned cultivar. Wild males are ideal, second to that are wild females close to wild males.
 
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Nedrowjoe

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Thanks for all the responses. Sorry for neglecting the post. I have been very busy and was not able to work much with the hopsb this year. The yield is very low this year compared to 2 previous years. I am concerned they will die off. I plan on digging up at least a few rhizomes this fall and transplanting them. I would be beside myself if I let them die. Any advice on what to do would be great. I want to keep any trellis very low, less than 10 feet. And would like to do it cheaply. Thanks again.
 

Apimyces

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Well I've kept hops indoors successfully, they can handle low (sun) light fairly well. The problem is bringing them back out, though, I've had a number burn and die. Those had passed months inside, though, nor near any light source. My seedlings from under T5s burned a little when brought outside, but not completely, and none died.

Bringing them inside could give you some extra time for propagating through cuttings, if you can't do so right away.
 

Northern_Brewer

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Hops aren't corn. They've been the result of hardly any breeding, and mostly the subject of a single breeding strategy. Most hops are centuries old and were not intentionally bred. Most other hops are F1 crosses of one of the previous group of hops. Few hops are the result of successive selections for specific traits. Also no resistance to pesticides are bred into hops (not overly useful anyways, given how their grow, as herbicides can already be used on the rows).
Most hops in current production most certainly were bred. I can only really talk about the UK, but we've got 30 varieties in production and of those only Fuggles and Goldings go back more than a century - and even they are Victorian selections (ish). So 90% owe their existence to planned breeding, which started in ernest (sic) at Wye after WWI. But it's been pretty intensive since then - off the top of my head Centennial is a Fuggles F5 from the mid 1970s, I'm trying to remember the F6's. Sure over 50% of world hop acreage has derived some DNA from Wye, but that's not to underestimate what's happened at Huell etc
 

Apimyces

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My point wasn't that no one ever did any serious breeding of hops, but that many commercial success hops were the result of relatively little breeding effort, if any (some were just found as is, not intentionally sown for breeding purposes), especially if not limiting oneself to the currently popular varieties and considers all that was grown in the last few centuries. Cluster, for example, which is centuries old and still among the popular varieties. Thus, that extensive breeding with multiple successive generations is not a requirement to obtain something that could interest (some) brewers, even though it certainly can help.

Cascade is just an F2 from Fuggle and Serebrianka. Chinook is also an F2 of Petham Golding and Brewer's Gold. Brewer's Gold itself is just an open pollinated seed from a wild plant. Perle is a F1 of Northern Brewer. Sure, some hops have a complex heritage, Centennial is among the most complex of the ones I looked up. A large number of them are just OP seedlings from named cultivars, crossed to themselves once or twice.

https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/2450/hoppedigree.pdf
 

Northern_Brewer

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My point wasn't that no one ever did any serious breeding of hops, but that many commercial success hops were the result of relatively little breeding effort, if any (some were just found as is, not intentionally sown for breeding purposes), especially if not limiting oneself to the currently popular varieties and considers all that was grown in the last few centuries. Cluster, for example, which is centuries old and still among the popular varieties. Thus, that extensive breeding with multiple successive generations is not a requirement to obtain something that could interest (some) brewers, even though it certainly can help.
You can't generalise from 1 hop - Cluster - to "Most hops are centuries old and were not intentionally bred". In fact even the main Cluster clone, Early Cluster, only dates back to 1908. And you have to allow for the competition, you can't just imagine we're back in the 19th century. There's a reason Cluster has gone from being just about the only commercial US hop to ~1% of acreage - it's not a very good hop by modern standards (except for alpha stability to be fair). Brewers would laugh at a new bittering hop that was <10% alpha, and growers wouldn't grow a hop that was so difficult to harvest and was so vulnerable to downy mildew. As it is, the disease susceptibility means it can only be grown in the desert of the Yakima Valley. The two reasons behind the ubiquity of the Wye lineages are their high alpha and disease resistance - the latter is a lot more important in the UK!

These days growers and brewers are far more demanding than they were, which is why new varieties these days need to pass a whole battery of tests before being released - and that generally happens in the context of a formal breeding programme that needs to screen 10k's of seedlings to find something that is in the top say 10% for wilt resistance AND mildew resistance AND harvestibility AND flavour. Obviously a random hedgerow seedling could always prove to be "the one" but it is vastly less likely that it will be competitive against modern varieties than a century ago. And that was what irked me about "Most hops are centuries old and were not intentionally bred", you were implying the chances of picking a "good un" at random were vastly higher than they were. They're not zero, but they're not high either.

PS Beg my pardon, Centennial is a Fuggles F4, the likes of Glacier are Fuggles F5's. Sure the workhorse varieties at the moment are maybe F2's but in general you'd expect people to start with the more recent varieties to take advantage of those stacked disease resistances and alpha - given that Centennial was bred in the 70s I'm sure there are F6's and F7's being prepared for release now - and of course we tend not to hear about the genealogy of the proprietary varieties.
 

Northern_Brewer

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Haha, very nice! You aren't affiliated with Faram are you?
At least someone got it, normally it's pearls before swine! My username is similarly dual-purpose.

Nope, no direct connections with the industry like that, but some indirect ones - and I'm a general beer geek who is interested in history and biology and stuff....
 

Apimyces

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Well, was Hallertau the result of a breeding program? Golding? Saaz? The industry popped up many interesting cultivars that distinguish themselves in various ways. But the classics largely remain. Yes, they've migrated out of some regions they were traditionally grown in, but that did not eliminate demand for them.

I'll concede, perhaps "most" was an exaggeration, as I'll admit to not having dug up the pedigree of every known cultivar on the market. Still, many remain, the landraces have not been abandonned. Breeding programs might start out with enormous quantities of seedlings only to push out a handful of cultivars, but that doesn't mean that the rest were all utter crap, just means that they were discarded before the final trials for whatever reason.
 

Northern_Brewer

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Well, was Hallertau the result of a breeding program? Golding? Saaz? The industry popped up many interesting cultivars that distinguish themselves in various ways. But the classics largely remain. Yes, they've migrated out of some regions they were traditionally grown in, but that did not eliminate demand for them.

I'll concede, perhaps "most" was an exaggeration, as I'll admit to not having dug up the pedigree of every known cultivar on the market. Still, many remain, the landraces have not been abandonned. Breeding programs might start out with enormous quantities of seedlings only to push out a handful of cultivars, but that doesn't mean that the rest were all utter crap, just means that they were discarded before the final trials for whatever reason.
Actually - the vast majority of what that chart labels as "Hallertau" was the result of a breeding programme. To get to that kind of number they must be including "improved" Hallertaus like Hallertau Tradition - there's 5x the acreage of Tradition versus the original Mittelfruh, at current rates of planting there will be more Amarillo than Mittelfruh in Germany by 2020. Mittelfruh, Hersbrucker, Tettnang only account for 10-15% of German acreage in total. It's all about Herkules, Perle, Magnum etc.

The landraces have not been abandoned, but in most cases they either were never significant (Australia, NZ) or have dwindled to relatively minor status (US, Belgium, Germany). Saaz is the big exception, from memory it's about 80% of the Czech acreage - I guess they've never had the disease epidemics that have hit other areas. The UK was about 80% Fuggles at the end of WWII - but then verticilium hit and we've gone from around 15000 acres to 2500 acres of hops in total, and Fuggles is now a relatively minor player. I guess Goldings is the only landrace that can be said to be a significant part of its national hop supply, but even then it's nothing like Saaz, a lot has been replaced by the Targets, Challengers etc.
 

Apimyces

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The chart says "Hallertau Mittelfruh", specifically, as sixth most popular in 2014. Saaz was 7th in 2007-2008, Golding (US) and EKG were both in the top 10 at the start.

10% of German acreage for its native landraces is huge. That's around 4200 acres. That feeds a lot of breweries, and it's more than many countries' acreage put together.

Popularity may decline, and so may market shares, but if you take ratios out and only look at the raw numbers, there's still a lot of people brewing with the classics, while many if the new cultivars seem to come and go as fads.
 

Northern_Brewer

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The chart says "Hallertau Mittelfruh", specifically, as sixth most popular in 2014. Saaz was 7th in 2007-2008, Golding (US) and EKG were both in the top 10 at the start.

10% of German acreage for its native landraces is huge. That's around 4200 acres. That feeds a lot of breweries, and it's more than many countries' acreage put together.

Popularity may decline, and so may market shares, but if you take ratios out and only look at the raw numbers, there's still a lot of people brewing with the classics, while many if the new cultivars seem to come and go as fads.
Hmm - how did I read it as just Hallertau? Anyway, it just makes no sense - there's just 539ha of Mittellfruh in the Hallertau (and a bit elsewhere), 10% of the Herkules acreage and about 20% of the Tradition acreage. The increase in Herkules acreage last year was greater than the entire acreage of Mittelfruh. They must be including "improved Hallertau" in there somehow - in the same way that eg Amos Early Bird gets counted in with Canterbury Goldings as a "Golding".

And we weren't talking about 2007-08 but now, and you were the one who used phrases like "Most hops ...were not intentionally bred". You can't then pretend we weren't talking about ratios. And if you're going to talk of Germany in absolute terms then you have to talk about the US which is even bigger and has mebbe 1% Cluster.

Sure, noone's arguing that there's a good amount of beer made with landraces. But their proportion of the total crop has been falling, dramatically in some cases. More importantly, going back to the original point - they would not be competitive today. The reason they are grown is almost entirely due to tradition and history rather than their own merits - if you offered a farmer a new variety with the agronomics of a Fuggles or Mittelfruh then they would just laugh at you. The flavours are not so superior to other varieties that brewers would want them at any price, but the farmers would just not want to grow them. If they're not in a field, they won't end up in a beer.
 

Apimyces

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I think the chart probably only depicts popularity in a certain region, maybe the US. To be honest I had a hard time viewing the page. This could explain why Mittellfruh is in the top ranks while it only represents a small percentage of the global production of hops.

A lot of this is matter of perspective, and thus subjective. 10 years ago, you make that sound like it was centuries ago, to me that's basically yesterday. Acreage importance and brewery importance is also subjective. Some regions have mega hop farms as the norm, others have small familial hop yards as the norm. In my parts, it's mostly the latter, hop yards having only a few acres at most, I'm not sure if any of them have over 10. They all live off a couple of breweries each. I'm not sure how it's like in New York, but I suspect that since it's not a major hop region anymore, and that they are next door, there are probably similarities. A grower who has 1000 acres might not bother with a cultivar unless he can sell many acres' worth of it at once, but such small growers can afford to grow a special variety on just one row for a client, and it just takes a few small brewers, or one not so small, to buy them out. I mean, just a few years back we had 68 hectares in the whole province, so that one specific region of Germany has "only" 539 of one landrace hop, out of many...

I'm not sure why we are still debating that point, though, I already conceded that my statement was an exaggeration, due to not having looked up the pedigree of the more recent cultivars. "Most", while still probably inaccurate, was never intended as relative to acreage or production, but merely to the number of existing named cultivars. I mean, The Hop List talks about 265 named cultivars, I'll be honest I have not researched a significant portion of their pedigrees, for the most part the information isn't public (or doesn't exist) anyways.

I never meant to imply that taking a wild seedling had good chances of giving the next Cascade. I think to state those odds are remote would be, in itself, generous. But I also didn't see the OP state such ambitions. He only mentioned growing them, naming them, and having others brew with them, and that some third parties he contacted had been enthusiastic about his hops. If some breweries still order the "inferior" varieties that would never make it in today's world, how's it so far fetched that he could sway a few micro-breweries to use some native hop, even if it turns out to not quite be on par with some of the most recent releases?

If they aren't in a field, they won't end up in a beer... maybe. But on the other hand, if a brewer wants them in his beer, and is willing to pay enough for the grower to get a reasonable margin, then it will end up in a field. Grower's want to sell, and everyone's got a price.
 

AntiCatastrofik

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Off topic, kind of. And a few years late. Depending on the species of Sumac, you can harvest the flowers in the fall and make tea with them. Be careful as some varieties, like Yellow Sumac are poisonous.
 

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