Farmer-Brewer Meet-Up Sparks Enthusiasm for New York State Hops

Upstate-downstate gathering solidifies sustainability of brewing and agricultural industries

Rensselaerville, N.Y. – Helderberg Brewery at the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselaerville, and Strong Rope Brewery in Brooklyn partnered to host a farmer-brewer meet-up on Sunday, October 28, 2018. Over ten of the state’s largest hop growers met with a group of Brooklyn-based craft brewers for an afternoon of relationship building over beer and hops.

Jason Sahler, owner and head brewer of Strong Rope Brewery prepared for the event well in advance. He had five beers on tap featuring all New York-grown hops. “As a New York State farm brewery, Strong Rope is required to use a minimum of 20% state-grown hops in every beer we make,” said Sahler. “From the start, we set out to use 100% New York hops and malt, and hope to inspire others to do the same through our beer and through more events like this.”

The goal of the event was to get New York’s larger growers in the same room with New York City craft brewers to establish new sales relationships, talk shop about hop quality and varieties, and to renew the sense of community around New York State hops.

“I think this type of networking event was exactly what the hops and brewing industry needed. The relationships that develop from events like this are so essential for the success of the agricultural industry in New York State and for the long-term sustainability of the brewing industry,” said Kaylyn Kirkpatrick, Brewing Extension Associate, Department of Food Science, Cornell University. “It was really exciting to be in that space with some of the pioneers of New York State hops and craft beer! I saw growers discussing what hop varieties did well in the 2018 harvest, brewers exchanging ideas on how to create unique hop character in their beers, and both parties eager to move forward as a strong collective.”

Feeling compelled to break the ice between growers and brewers in New York State, Helderberg Brewery Manager Rebecca Platel and Sahler have been envisioning this event for over a year. “We’d been talking to growers about their experience in the market and feedback was not overly positive. said Platel. “Many growers were still sitting on previous years’ hop harvest. With this event, we were hoping to spark relationships that will help growers move product and improve the industry overall.”

New York State’s craft beverage sector already stands out nationally as a leader in local sourcing and there is more room to improve and grow. There are over 200 craft brewing operations with a farm brewery license that are required to use 20% hops and 20% all other ingredients – namely grain or malt – from New York State growers. This will increase to 60% in January 2019, expanding the market for growers and spurring farm breweries to build more localized supply chains.

With the success of this event, Helderberg Brewery and Strong Rope Brewery plan to organize a similar event in spring 2019.

Helderberg Brewery is a NYS Farm Brewery and taproom at the Carey Institute for Global Good in historic Rensselaerville, NY. In addition to sourcing nearly 100% of our hops and grain from local farms we support the development of New York’s farm-to-glass supply chain through workshops, networking events, and technical assistance. For more information visit www.helderbergbrewery.org

The Carey Institute for Global Good is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012 by Wm. Polk Carey and is dedicated to building a strong, educated and just society. Through its programs, the Institute strives to bring together innovative and dynamic people from around the world to address the most pressing issues of the day. For more information visit www.careyinstitute.org

Strong Rope Brewery is owned and operated by head brewer Jason Sahler. Jason was an award-winning homebrewer before taking the next step and starting his own brewery. Strong Rope Brewery creates handcrafted local and organic ales featuring seasonal offerings that use the freshest vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices showcasing the New York State farmers and maltsters we work with to create great tasting beer. For more information visit www.strongropebrewery.com

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