The hop harvest. It’s easily one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s been a while since I visited the Pacific Northwest to soak up the autumnal splendor of the hop harvest and enjoy the freshest of hopped beers, but hey, you don’t need to go out West to enjoy the hop harvest. Michigan regularly comes in as No. 4 in hop production in the United States behind Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The state’s production has ranged above and below 800 acres in the last few years.
Organizations like the Michigan State University Extension and Great Lakes Hop Working Group provide region-specific pest management support to producers in remerging hop production outside of the Pacific Northwest while supporting sustainable hop production in the Great Lakes region. There are great Michigan hop farms like MI Local Hops, producing all types of great varieties. There are even Michigan craft breweries like Bell’s that grow some of their own.
In fact, Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery has a hopyard right next to its Comstock brewery. It’s where Bell’s grows the hops for its seasonal New England-style IPA Sideyard, featured in these two new videos just released by Bell’s Brewery. To brew Sideyard, which is a fresh or wet hop brand, crews hand-pick Chinook hops and rush them to the brewhouse within three-and-a-half hours, so they can give the brew a massively fresh dry-hop.
Bell’s Has a Hop Yard That’s as Big as a Football Field
First planted in 2014, Bell’s hop yard produces a few different hop varieties. This isn’t unheard of for breweries, but Bell’s does it differently: with an 85-ton geothermal field underground that also controls the climate inside the buildings of Bell’s Brewery’s Comstock location. It does this through glycol-filled tubes buried eight feet underground. It’s all part of Bell’s efforts to brew and operate sustainably.