Two Michigan Workshops to Learn About Growing Local Hops

July 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Even though there’s a lot of competition in the Midwest beer industry (especially from Chicago’s own microbreweries), it’s common to see a Michigan beer or two on tap at most bars and restaurants, and many more in bottles. As beer is currently a growth industry in Michigan (it is currently ranked 5th in the United States in the greatest number of breweries), Michigan has tried to keep up with demand for their local product by cultivating the key ingredient in beer: local hops.

To meet the needs of the state’s burgeoning local beer production, Michigan farmers have ramped up growth of local hops. Michigan farmers have planted approximately 100 acres of hops, and invested over $2 million in purchasing and refurbishing picking and processing equipment for farming hops.

To highlight this new arena for local crops, Michigan State University is organizing two workshops to educate people on growing hops. The first is the 4th Annual Northwest Michigan Hop Tour and Field Day on Friday, August 10th from 8 am to 5 pm. With support from the Michigan Brewers Guild and the Michigan Hop Alliance, the participants will visit the state’s oldest commercial hopyard, attend MSU research trials, learn about picking and processing hops, enjoy lunch at Old Mission Peninsula’s Mission Table, and learn about the brewery needs as well as the role of hops in beer production from Michigan Brewers Guild Executive Director Scott Graham. Space is limited to the first 56 participants so please sign up soon! More information here.

If you cannot get all the way up to Old Mission Peninsula, a second workshop will be held in Southwest Michigan. MSU is hosting a workshop on August 21 at its Southwest Michigan Research and Education Center in Benton Harbor. Learn what is needed to set up a hop yard, select plants, and start growing hops.  You’ll also learn about the history and uses for hops, the requirements for growing, fertilizing and irrigating hops, common insect and disease problems and their management, hop processing, and marketing opportunities for hops. Representatives from local microbreweries will be on hand to discuss hop characteristics and what they add to a brew. This workshop is geared towards potential commercial or serious, amateur hop growers. More information here.