Flying Dog, University of Md. Form Partnership

Both will help to improve the  growing of hops in the state.

Frederick, Md (KM). Maryland is not famous for growing hops used in the brewing of beer, but that could change. Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick and the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources have formed a partnership to improve the growing of hops in the state.

“It’s all about agriculture and how agriculture in Maryland will support the breweries in the state,” says Matt Brophy, the Chief Operating Officer for Flying Dog.

He says the University of Maryland will plant hops in an experimental plot at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville. The school will raise 24 varieties of hops, and determine how Maryland’s unique climate affects the quality of the crops.

Brophy says hops is not widely grown in Maryland. He says most breweries in the state must import the hops they need to brew their beers, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. He says these experiments by the University could encourage farmers to grow hops and supply their crop to area breweries. “There are few small farms that have been growing hops and providing it commercially within the state that have seen some good success with a couple of good varieties,” says Brophy. “And the idea with this partnership is to see what additional varieties can be grown in the state.”

Flying Dog says it obtains the hops it needs to brew its beers from the Yakima Valley in Washington State.

If the results of the experiments in hops growing are favorable, that could encourage more farmers to grow hops “so that the 69 breweries in Maryland will have some local sources to pull from,” says Brophy.

But, he says, farmers who want to use part of their properties to grow hops need to think carefully before making a decision. “What we want to do  is to be able to provide a resource before anybody out there gets too excited and thinks they can go out and make a good buck that they truly understand what it takes,” he says. “That they can either have the confidence or perhaps not, depending how this goes,  to know that they can make a wise investment with their agricultural property, and feel good about what they’re putting in the ground.”

Hops are primarily used in beer as a stabilizing or flavor agent. It can make the beer taste bitter, zesty or like a citrus fruit.

By Kevin McManus