Growers looking to supply hops to Ohio's booming microbrewering industry need to first research which varieties of hops craft brewers want to avoid the costly mistake of investing in the wrong types.
Ohio beer manufacturers spend an estimated $4 million annually on purchases of hop cones, or hops, to create craft beers. This creates a huge opportunity for local growers to get into hops production, says Brad Bergefurd, a horticulturist with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.
Because the majority of those hops are sourced in states west of Ohio, the opportunity to grow and expand local hops production is significant, he said. Hops are a main ingredient in beer manufacturing. They provide bitterness to balance the sweetness of malt sugars.
"Microbrewing is growing quickly in Ohio, with over 100 craft brewers licensed statewide over the past two years," Bergefurd says. "And these breweries need locally grown ingredients like hops and malting barley, the two main ingredients needed in many of the brews.
"But because different brewers use different hops varieties for their craft beers, it's important for growers to know the market in terms of the varieties that brewers need before growers invest in their first rhizomes (plant roots)."
To help growers interested in learning more about hops production, including how to market the increasingly popular ingredient to Ohio's breweries, Bergefurd and other Ohio hops researchers will host a workshop Feb. 13 featuring presentations from entomologists, plant pathologists and horticulturists with OSU Extension and OARDC.
Participants can learn about new hops cultivars and innovative hops production techniques. Participants can also sign up to tour a local brewery after the program to learn more about what those in the industry are looking for from hops growers, he says.
Investigators will also discuss findings from the Ohio hops research program, which is evaluating new cultivars, innovative production techniques, insect and disease control methods, and harvesting, processing and marketing techniques that can be adopted by Ohio farmers.
The program is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, Ohio, on the OARDC campus.
Registration for the workshop is $25 and includes the program, handouts, refreshments and lunch. Contact Charissa McGlothin at 740-289-2071, ext. 132, for more information or to register. The deadline to register is Jan. 31. The brewery tour is outside of the program schedule and costs an additional $5.