The hop harvest is a special time of year for both beer professionals and beer drinkers alike. On the brewing side, it’s an amazing time to visit these farms, stuffing cloth bags full of fresh, pre-kilned hop cones and running off to brew some of the best beer of the year. It’s also the perfect time for pros to visit these ag operations, pick and inspect lots and learn about the latest hop products hitting the market from extracts to cryo. For beer drinkers, the hop harvest is a time to celebrate beer (right before the warm weather ends), enjoying probably my favorite beer season — wet or fresh hop craft beer.
It is true that the majority of hop farms in America are located in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington and Idaho), but since the emergence of the craft beer movement hop farms have been popping up all over America. Michigan, for instance, is the fourth biggest state for hop growing. Neighboring Ohio also has a small but strong hop farm community, looking to service Ohio brewers with regional flavors and regional product.
The Ohio Hop Growers Guild represents 50 hop farmers in the Buckeye State, which are growing around 30+ varieties of hops. Right now, it’s a busy time of the year for these Ohio farms, and it’s also an important time of year for craft brewers looking to produce fresh or wet hop beers. To help consumers appreciate these farms — hops are not easy to grow — and locate these local wet hop brews, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association and the Ohio Hop Growers Guild have launched Fresh Hop Ohio, a guide to the first beers brewed with the 2022 hop crop. From the press release:
“As Ohio’s craft brewing industry has grown to more than 400 independently owned breweries, Ohio’s hop growers have also increased in number, acreage and available varieties,” said Ohio Craft Brewers Association executive director Mary MacDonald. “Brewing beer with locally sourced hops, barley and other ingredients is a great way for our industry to further our commitments to supporting the local economy and practicing environmental stewardship.”
The beers featured in the Fresh Hop Ohio campaign are all brewed with fresh, unprocessed hops grown by Ohio farmers. These fresh hop beers offer uniquely Ohio-grown aromas and flavors and are only available during the late summer, early fall harvest season. See the beer list at https://ohiocraftbeer.org/freshhopohio.
Plus, that beer list is going to continue to grow as farmers around the state complete their harvesting and brewers schedule their brew days to use the hops at the peak of freshness. What I really like about this campaign is that this Fresh Hop Ohio guide displays the name and location of the brewery, the name and style of beer, the name of the hop grower and varieties used in the beer, as well as an estimate of when the beer will be available at the brewery taproom. Then, additions are made to the list as new information comes in from the breweries. As a hop fan and native Ohioan, this is very cool.
In finale, here’s a map of the majority of hop farms in Ohio via the Ohio Hop Growers Guild (open the image in another page to make it bigger). Now go enjoy some fresh hop brews on this page.