Growing Hops in the Northeast

Discussion in 'US - Northeast' started by DeweyCheatem-n-Howe, May 5, 2016.

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  1. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Anyone grow hops, particularly on more than just a homebrewer-level basis? Are there any particular strains that really grow well in New England, or some that grow like arse? What experiences do you have, and would you even consider decent-scale hop farming up here?

    I'm wondering if a hop farm isn't a nice alternative for beer lovers who want to contribute to the craft they love but don't feel like brewing is for them.
  2. messrock

    messrock Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2010 Massachusetts

    Check in with Marini Farms up in Ipswich. IIRC they supply the hops for Ipswich's harvest ale
    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe likes this.
  3. Bcelos

    Bcelos Initiate (0) Mar 24, 2015 Connecticut

    I know Kent Falls grow their own hops as well.
  4. WanderingFool

    WanderingFool Poo-Bah (2,111) Aug 7, 2002 Massachusetts

    Cascade hops do great in New England. I believe there's an organic hop farm in Maine that's growing Cascades.
    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe likes this.
  5. duchessedubourg

    duchessedubourg Aspirant (256) Nov 2, 2007 Vermont

    University of Vermont has had a commercial hop-growing program and annual conference for the last 5 years for those interested in cultivating hops for sale.
  6. BucketsB

    BucketsB Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2011 Massachusetts

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  7. RedEcho

    RedEcho Initiate (77) Oct 23, 2012 Massachusetts

    Canterbury AleWorks in Canterbury, NH has a small, thriving, and absolutely beautiful hops operation - not to mention really good beer! I recommend a road trip some Saturday.
  8. marcrgrenier

    marcrgrenier Initiate (68) Apr 22, 2015 New Hampshire

    I've been growing hops for the last 6 or 7 years, albeit more at the homebrew level than commercial farm level (i get a few pounds each year). I grow centennial and cascade, both do great in Southern NH. For a few years my dad grew nugget and mt hood close by and they did not do well at all.
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  9. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Anyone ever try growing Citra or - god help me - Galaxy in the New England climate, or is that just not feasible?
  10. lic217

    lic217 Savant (924) Aug 10, 2010 Connecticut

    I do not think you can grow them do to copyright stuff. Only certain hops are currently available.
    BAMF and jlordi12 like this.
  11. jlordi12

    jlordi12 Devotee (470) Jun 8, 2011 Massachusetts

    This is correct
  12. JGLittle

    JGLittle Initiate (0) Mar 24, 2012 Massachusetts

    Four Star Farms in Northfield Mass grows hops commercially.
  13. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Ok, that's interesting... thanks. Never really knew you could copyright hops.
  14. zeuiax

    zeuiax Initiate (0) May 1, 2016 New York

    Hop breeding and plant maturation takes years. Hop Breeding Company (HBC) holds rights to Citra, Mosaic and Equinox, YCR (select botonicals) holds Simoe, Warrior, anthum ...and Galaxy was bred by HPA (Hop Products Australia). Hop breeding is almost like developing new takes years and climate has huge impact on hop plants. There is more to it than get some rhizome of Citra and start growing in your back yard.
  15. BranfordBound

    BranfordBound Initiate (0) Apr 7, 2010 Connecticut

    How about Czech or German hops (Noble Hops) in New England? I'd imagine that our climates would be somewhat similar, maybe with a more intense summer the more southern you go in New England, but I would think these varieties would be pretty hardy. Love to hear the input.
  16. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Very much so, as @zeuiax pointed out above.

    Even if you were somehow able to get your hands on a Galaxy rhizome, and successfully cultivate it, it would almost certainly be different than the Australian import. For example, Fuggle (classic UK hop) wasn't growing well, so the Willamette hop came to be. The two are very closely related, but they're distinctly different hops, partially because of the divergence in lineage, partly because of terroir.
    jbertsch and DeweyCheatem-n-Howe like this.
  17. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Thank you. That's part of what I was hoping to learn with this post - how much does climate and soil affect how a hop grows, and the end product. I didn't know if they are as touchy and volatile as grapes in vineyards, or if the type of hop would develop similarly regardless of where it was planted.

    This has been a great learning thread for me, I appreciate it everyone, and keep it coming - this is fascinating to me.
    sjverla likes this.
  18. zeuiax

    zeuiax Initiate (0) May 1, 2016 New York

    Cascade from PNW, NY, Australia and NZ are all same hop but tastes completely different.
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  19. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Is it possible to replicate soil conditions favorable to try and generate a particular outcome for a particular hop?
  20. zeuiax

    zeuiax Initiate (0) May 1, 2016 New York

    May be possible but Sun matter more than anything else. However, NE does fall in hop growing belt.
  21. sjverla

    sjverla Disciple (397) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    I'm no botanist (and only a moderately successful gardener), but I think anything is possible with enough work. I don't see why you couldn't set up a sort of green house (think the show Weeds, both in scale and clandestine nature) to control every condition, but at that point you'd be better off buying in bulk...

    Also, check out the homebrew forum. Stuff on growing hops there 'crops' up from time to time.
  22. TheMagnanimous

    TheMagnanimous Initiate (0) Mar 16, 2011 Vermont

    There's only a handful of varieties that are actually in demand that do well here if you look at U of Vermont results and read other threads.

    Anecdotally CBC made a good beer with hops from Northfield, MA (four star farms) and Sebago made a good beer with all ME ingredients from what I recall.

    Since no one has mentioned Chinook - it's another to consider looking into. I got good results in my backyard in central MA, not sure if it's commercially viable here.
  23. jbertsch

    jbertsch Poo-Bah (1,594) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I'm growing Saaz in my backyard, which have shot up a bunch in the last week or two. It's only year 2 though. Last year was about getting them established. This year my fingers are crossed for some cones to harvest come fall (along with the Sorachi Ace I planted) to make a saison.
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  24. sgulner

    sgulner Initiate (161) Apr 16, 2011 Massachusetts

    This is year 3 of growing Citra in my backyard, and each year it has doubled in size, strength, smell, and yield
    rhino88888888 likes this.
  25. zeuiax

    zeuiax Initiate (0) May 1, 2016 New York

    Are you sure its CITRA? Even if it is...I am not sure if its a good idea to say it out loud here. Unless you acquired it legitimately.
  26. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Are patented hops not growable, or just not commercially growable?
  27. zeuiax

    zeuiax Initiate (0) May 1, 2016 New York

    In short, HBC has rights on Citra. They wont sell the rhizomes to public. I am not sure how you can find one to grow in your back yard.
    hopfenunmaltz, Jan 4, 2016
  28. derailment

    derailment Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2010 Ohio

    Like was already mentioned, day-length has a huge impact on the character of the final product but would say that it tends to dictate more what varieties a grower can grow as certain ones need the extra hours that Yakima sees, and I would say that terroir probably has a bigger impact on hops than it does on grapes. Folks I know in Michigan sent me down some of their Chinook a few years ago, pineapple! Mine, here in NEOhio, have a huge spearmint character. Here's a good analysis of the same varieties grown only a few miles away from each other:
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  29. sgulner

    sgulner Initiate (161) Apr 16, 2011 Massachusetts

    I am sure it is Citra, as planted the Rhizomes myself. Legitimate? I was gifted 2 of these from a homebrew supply shop a few years back. As stated, growing very well and am excited to make another wet hop beer come Fall.
    As a side note, I have started to hear from some beer stores that a new marketing plan put out by a local brewery will be, buy a 12 pack and get a rhizome, I believe Cascade, but really only remember it was a C hop. Sooo, keep your eyes open and happy planting!
  30. messrock

    messrock Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2010 Massachusetts

    How do you even know the rhizome was from a Citra planting? Considering you've had them for a few years, and if wherever you got them grew them from wet hop clippings, that means they had the wet hop clippings and started their process in 2010… seems suspect.
  31. zeuiax

    zeuiax Initiate (0) May 1, 2016 New York

    If that's Citra then lucky you. I would really appreciate if you could post picture of cones when they are ready to harvest.
  32. DeweyCheatem-n-Howe

    DeweyCheatem-n-Howe Initiate (0) May 23, 2015 Massachusetts

    Out of curiosity, do the owners of the patented hop strains license individual farms to grow them, or do they keep them strictly within their owned and operated farms?
  33. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (127) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    I bought a Cascade and Centennial rhizome a few years ago from the Modern Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge. Third year in the Cascade is the clearly the one that grows the best for me.

    I plant them in a narrow strip of dirt between our driveway and the foundation wall of our three family, which faces due south. So not only does it get good sun, but that concrete keeps it pretty warm at night as well. I have a trellis that I wove some bamboo stakes through that gives me up to about 10 feet. The Centennial made it to the top last year. The Cascade was a the top by the end of june and looks like it will be again this year. I'm going to tack some monofilament lines to the window frames on my second floor apartment and run them down to the trellis to give them more room to grow this year.

    My next brew is going to be with the pound or so of dried hops I have from last year. I expect a bigger crop this year.
    kliend likes this.
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