Harvesting hops in Upstate NY

From the Albany (NY) Times Union

... This is the season for harvesting hops, which can be turned into tasty beer. On Sunday, a group of about 25 volunteers gathered at Tom Riley's Johnsonville [NY] farm to strip about 100 pounds of Cascade variety hops from their vines. The bounty will soon become Brown Brewing Company's Harvest IPA.

The hops are not just a local link to a piece of New York's history that was long presumed dead. They're also what makes craft beers a niche market and allows companies like Brown's to expand in a recession, said Gregg Stacy, director of marketing and sales.

"These are flavors a lot of people haven't experienced," Stacy said as he ran a vine through green-stained fingers in search of more hops. "This is the way beer used to be made."

Upstate New York once was the center of America's production of hops, an essential ingredient in making beer. About a century ago, 80 million pounds came out of the region, said Duncan Hilchey, who helped develop the Northeast Hops Alliance, a group of farmers and brewers trying to build a hop resurgence in the state. Farmers recruited beer drinkers from places like New York City to come and help harvest the hops by making it a weekend celebration, with plenty of product sampling allowed and dances called, not surprisingly, "hops."

[Go here for the full story.]

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