The Blog for Women Who Brew Beer

InBev to Cut Resource Use

Posted by Maggie on June 5, 2013

This article is from the Environmental Leader.

AB InBev to Cut Water Use, GHGs, Packaging

nheuser-Busch InBev today committed to seven global environmental goals to reduce water use and water risk, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, packaging and energy use.

AB InBev aims to reach these goals, which are shared across 24 countries, by the end of 2017. The company’s new goals are:

  • Reduce water risks and improve water management in 100 percent of its key barley growing regions in partnership with local stakeholders.
  • Engage in watershed protection measures at 100 percent of its facilities located in key areas in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Mexico, Peru and the US, in partnership with local stakeholders.
  • Reduce global water usage to 3.2 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production.
  • Reduce global GHG emissions per hectoliter of production by 10 percent, including a 15 percent reduction per hectoliter in China.
  • Reduce global energy usage per hectoliter of production by 10 percent.
  • Reduce packaging materials by 100,000 tons.
  • Reach a 70 percent global average of eco-friendly cooler purchases annually.

The commitments build on the three-year global environmental targets on water, energy, carbon emissions and recycling AB InBev reached at the end of 2012. In March the brewer announced it hit its goal of using 3.5 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production and decreased energy use per hectoliter in breweries and soft drink facilities worldwide by 12 percent against a 2009 baseline.

AB InBev announced the new goals on its fifth annual global celebration of World Environment Day (WED), an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

AB InBev cut the amount of waste it sent to landfills by 54.8 percent year-on-year, from 104,946 metric tons in 2011 to 47,341 in 2012, according to its 2012 Global Citizenship Report.

In the same period, the amount of materials AB InBev recycled and composted rose by 2.8 percent, from 5,937,251 to 6,102,819 metric tons, and materials used as fuel rose 27 percent, from 6,038 to 7,648 metric tons.

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Beer Purity Threatened by ‘Fracking’

Posted by Maggie on May 24, 2013

This article is from the Environmental Leader.

German Beer Industry ‘Threatened by Fracking’

Anheuser-Busch InBev and other German brewers want Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to block any laws that would allow hydraulic fracturing, which, they say could contaminate water used to make beer and hurt the country’s brewing industry.

The Association of German Breweries, which represents Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bitburger Braugruppe and other companies say Germany’s fracking proposals don’t protect drinking water and may overstep the 500-year-old beer purity law, Bloomberg reports.

The “Reinheitsgebot,” or German purity law, mandates that brewers produce beer using only malt, hops, yeast and water, according to Reuters.

A beer association spokesman told Reuters that more than half of Germany’s brewers have their own wells on areas that would not be protected under the government’s planned fracking laws. He says the association wants the government to fund additional research and ensure chemicals won’t pollute the groundwater before it moves forward with any fracking legislation.

oktoberfest1.caiqzz9j8o0kooo84k0w84w4.5r15frdicg4kos40gwk400wsw.thThe €8 billion ($10 billion) German brewing industry employs more than 25,000 people, Bloomberg reports, and carries substantial political clout as fracking becomes an increasingly contentious issue leading up to Germany’s Sept. 22 election.

Merkel, who, according to media reports, drank from a 1-liter beer mug at a campaign stop earlier this month, has agreed on draft legislation that would outlaw fracking in some areas.

In the US, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company and 19 other craft brewers partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council last month to advocate for strong clean-water policies. The Brewers for Clean Water campaign aims to protect the multi-billion dollar industry’s No. 1 ingredient: water.

Earlier this month, a Duke University study of wells near shale gas drilling sites in Fayetteville, Ark. found no groundwater contamination. Low levels of methane found in samples were mostly from biological activity inside shallow aquifers, not from shale gas production contamination, scientists concluded.

Previous Duke studies of the effects of shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania found methane contamination in groundwater, but no signs of fracking fluids.

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Two Women Lager: New Glarus Brewing Co. Wisconsin

Posted by Maggie on January 22, 2013

TwoWomenMore women brewing beer. From the website ( 

Four thousand years before Christ, Sumerian women created the divine drink of beer. Viking women brewed in Norse society. European Ale Wives were so successful as cottage brewers they were taxed. Artisanal women lost their domination of the daily ritual of brewing during the Industrial Revolution. Today’s brewing trade is controlled by men. 

The collaboration of two Craft companies both led by women, New Glarus Brewing and Weyermann Malting, is unique. You hold the result “Two Women” a Classic Country Lager brewed with Weyermann’s floor malted Bohemian malt and Hallertau Mittelfrueh hops. A tempting and graceful classic lager found…Only in Wisconsin! 

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HEINEKEN USA Announces LEED Gold Certification in Newly Released 2011 Sustainability Report

Posted by Maggie on October 19, 2012

This article from Sustainable Industries examines Heineken USA’s new LEED certification.

Leading Upscale Beer Importer’s Sustainability Progress Stretches from Carbon Footprint to Fleet

WHITE PLAINS, NY, Oct. 16 /CSRwire/ – Today HEINEKEN USA released their 2011 Sustainability Report, outlining the leading upscale importer’s progress across its “Brewing a Better Future” agenda. Improvement was made in several vital areas of the business, including environmental impact, people and community, and its alcohol-specific focus to promote legal and responsible consumption.

In the report, HEINEKEN USA highlights a number of key wins in 2011 including:

  • Renovated its corporate headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., to meet LEED Gold certification standards
  • Introduced a high-mileage hybrid car into its corporate fleet in the U.S.
  • Sponsored Taxi Magic, a digital platform to help consumers easily book and pay for a taxi ride home after an evening out, provided more than 900,000 taxi rides to consumers
  • Collaborated with members of the Responsible Retailing Forum to publish practices to reduce alcohol sales to minors

“We maintain a long view and seriously consider how our business treats our communities and neighbors,” said Dolf van den Brink, HEINEKEN USA President & CEO. “We are excited about the 2011 sustainability successes, but look forward to building on the ‘Building a Better Future’ platform.”

The 2010 kick-off of the “Brewing a Better Future” agenda introduced a new era of focus around sustainability.  The program design was built based on input from a broad set of stakeholders. The initiative has provided HEINEKEN with a clear road map and reflects our integrated and long-term ambition to become the “World’s Greenest International Brewer.”

Brewing a Better Future focuses within strategic imperatives:

  • Continuously improve the environmental impact of HEINEKEN’s brands and business
  • Empower the company’s people and the communities in which it operates
  • Positively impact the role of beer in society

“At HEINEKEN USA, we lead 20 programs that by 2020 will bring our words ‘Brewing a Better Future’ to life in partnership with our key stakeholders,” said Stacey Tank, Senior Vice President & Chief Corporate Relations Officer, HEINEKEN USA. “These 20 programs demonstrate our values and commitment to people and society.”

The full HEINEKEN USA sustainability report will be available online, and the global version, is available

Comments or questions on the report may be sent to Suzanne McGovern, Manager, Sustainable Development & Alcohol Policy at


HEINEKEN USA Inc., the nation’s leading upscale beer importer, is a subsidiary of Heineken International BV, the world’s most international brewer. European brands imported into the U.S. include Heineken Lager, the world’s most international beer brand; Heineken Light; Amstel Light, a leading imported light beer brand; Newcastle Brown Ale, the leading imported ale in the United States; and Buckler non-alcoholic brew. HEINEKEN USA is also the exclusive U.S. importer for the Dos Equis, Tecate, Tecate Light, Indio, Sol, Carta Blanca and Bohemia brands from Mexico. For a safe ride home, download the HEINEKEN USA–sponsored Taxi Magic™ application from your smartphone at Please visit

This press release first appeared on CSRwire. 

For more information, please contact:

Adam Feigen Manager, External Communications
Phone: 914.681.4138
Elizabeth Brill (Gaines) Account Supervisor, Edelman
Phone: 212.704.4476

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A Beer For Women: Pink and Black

Posted by Maggie on September 24, 2012

This is from


Finally a beer just for women!

By Miriam | Published: September 2, 2011

Picture of a six pack of "Chick" with a pink and black label

Finally a beer just for women, reads the tagline of the website for chick, a new “premium light beer” marketed toward women. In case you miss the female reference in the beer’s name, the pink and black six-pack case might alert you, as it’s decorated to look like a purse. And if somehow you miss all of those signals, there is the little black dress replete with hourglass figure on the bottle itself.

On why she decided to create a beer marketed toward women, chick founder Shazz Lewis had this to say:

Their whole thing is that we don’t need a beer specifically for women and I’m like, ‘Why not?’ The beer industry has been for men for so long. But it’s changing all around — the NFL has that whole line of female jerseys, and Harley has bikes for women. I say, ‘Don’t get so upset. Just relax, it’s beer.’

I wouldn’t say I’m upset. More like annoyed, and tired of the ridiculous gendering of products. Beer marketing is notoriously male-focused and sexist (super bowl anyone?), so I’m all for new advertising that doesn’t fall into sexist stereotypes. This beer unfortunately just swings the other direction–trying to reach women via outdated stereotypes about what women want. Witness the chickness! says the six pack. Witness me puking a little bit in my mouth.

Chick isn’t the first alcoholic beverage to go in this direction. Skinnygirl cocktails is a new (and extremely successful) product out on the market thanks to Bethenny Frankel, a reality tv star. I think gendered marketing is silly and serves simply to reinforce the gender binary that gets reinforced so much that we’re practically getting beaten over the head with it.

In response to the question of what makes this beer “girly,” Shazz said, “It’s very mellow. It has a little less carbonation so it doesn’t make you burp. There’s no bitterness, and I think that was the big appeal for women.”

This is what the Chick Beer website says about how it all happened.

The Chick Story

Let us tell you the cool story of how Chick Beer happened.

One day, we were in our local store looking for an interesting beer to take home, and thought “Isn’t it strange that out of hundreds of beers, none are designed to appeal directly to women?  In fact, most are clearly marketed to men.”

We went home and did some research, and found that women drink 25% of all the beer consumed in the U.S. That’s over 700 MILLION cases every year!”

The idea to create a brand of beer specifically for women kept stirring in us.  We thought about it night and day, and decided that we were going to give women a female-centric choice that reflected their tastes.

After two years of effort, Chick Beer is our answer. Chick is a craft-brewed light beer that doesn’t taste like a light beer.  It has just 97 calories and 3.5 carbs.  The taste is soft, smooth and full-bodied.  It’s the taste that most women prefer.  You’re going to love it.

The idea for the name literally came to us in a dream, but in retrospect is obvious.  For years, men have dismissed lighter beers as chick beers, something “not on par with what real men drink”.  Our take on this: “Since when is Chick a bad thing?”

So we decided to turn the pejorative Chick upside down, and to use the word as a statement on the strength and power of women.  We also decided that this Chick would be anything but subtle: Bright pink packaging with a purse; LBD on the label; and an over-the-top feminine font; just to be absolutely certain that no one could mistake it for dude beer.

Chick Beer.  Not every woman likes the idea, and some men seem to be threatened by it.  But that’s always been the story with uppity Chicks, hasn’t it?

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Sustainable Brewing is Everywhere

Posted by Maggie on March 22, 2012

This is from the Brewery Law Blog by Reiser Legal.

Sustainable Brewing Is Not Just A Good Idea – It’s Happening All Around The Country

Posted on | February 24, 2012 | 2 Comments

 The two things that drive my professional career – sustainability and brewing. As a green building attorney, I have spent my entire career following building that trends that make buildings more efficient, more effective and cleaner. The past few years have shown great examples of the integration of green building and brewing. Needless to say – I’m pretty excited about it.

 If you don’t think that sustainable brewing is here yet, check out this short film over at the Beer Activist. Breweries like DC Brau, the featured brewer in the video, are becoming more energy and recycling conscious. Brewers are now condensing steam, reusing cooling water, using graywater for cleanup, collecting rainwater, and turning to solar thermal to heat their kettles.

 One of the best examples of green brewing is Brewery Vivant, the assumed first ever LEED-Certified brewery. Vivant is located in Grand Rapids, MI and not only purchased Renewable Energy Credits to replace energy it consumes, but also follows a number of smart and sustainable business practices in running it’s operation. Utilizing low-travel local materials and packaging beer in cans are just two of the ways that Vivant is reducing it’s carbon footprint.

 Here in Seattle, Big Al Brewing and Hales Ales have each invested in solar thermal to heat their breweries. Each of the installs were performed by Seattle’s Net Zero Impact and feature similar environmental benefits. Energy incentives subsidized the initial investment in the system, which will pay itself off in roughly 2.5 years.

Going green is not hard. From small breweries like Vivant to large craft brewers like New Belgium and Abita (each have industry-leading green brewing elements), we are seeing more devotion to saving water and finding affordable energy.

Brewers in planning? Consider some of these devices in your business plan and talk to your attorney about whether incentives might be available to you.

Posted in Sustainable Brewing | 1 Comment »

The Many Benefits of a Bottle Deposit System – Vancouver Sun

Posted by Maggie on March 21, 2012

Globe 2012: Lowly beer bottle sets sustainability standard

By GORDON HAMILTON, Vancouver Sun March 13, 2012

Read more:

When Canada’s brewers first started putting a deposit on their beer bottles in the 1920s, they did it because it was the best way to cut bottling costs.

Then, in the 1970s, when governments began passing anti-litter regulations, the beer-bottle deposit was the best way to control littering.

Today, when consumer businesses are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, again, it’s the lowly beer bottle that is showing the way.

You don’t have to look any further than the life cycle of a beer bottle to understand sustainability, said Brian Zeiler-Kligman, director of sustainability for the trade association Canada’s National Brewers.

Recycling empty beer bottles in Canada was first introduced 80 years ago as an economic solution that benefited not only the breweries but their customers as well, said Zeiler-Kligman, who is to tell the story of the beer bottle at a Globe 2012 panel Wednesday. The beer bottle is the perfect example of the maxim that sustainable practices should be good for the bottom line as well as the environment, he said.

For brewers, “the innovation story is really an old story,” Zeiler-Kligman said, referring to the post-prohibition origin of beer-bottle recycling.

“The system itself came into place as an economic solution. The brewers put a deposit on the bottles because they wanted to get them back from the customer. That was the best way they could think of to do that: To provide the customer with an incentive to do that. It’s been operating that way, with a few minor tweaks ever since prohibition ended.

“Because of the longevity of the program, because of the various incentives we provide to the consumer to participate, we have got some of the highest return rates for any kind of recovery program, certainly in North America.”

His advice on developing sustainable consumerism is to look first at the economics of it and, make sure that any program provides an incentive to the customer.

“If the economics aren’t there, regardless of the environmental benefits, the program is not going to last for long periods.”

Ninety-seven per cent of all beer bottles in Canada are recycled, he said. returning to the brewery as empties in the same truck that delivers fresh beer to retailers. And each bottle is used from 12 to 15 times before it goes into a glass recycling line, where it is broken into chips and sold back to the glass manufacturer. When you add up the impact all those bottles have on the bottom line for those three companies, it is staggering: In Ontario alone, consumers buy 1.2 billion bottles of beer, but brewers only needed to buy 93 million bottles. At 10 cents a bottle, those recyclable bottles add up to a sustainable industry valued at over $100 million.

Developing a successful return program did not just happen, however. It took cooperation among breweries to use a standardized beer bottle, something that the three major breweries that comprise the association — Molson, Labatt and Sleeman — still support. In B.C., Canada’s National Brewers have stewardship responsibility for beer bottles and cans from 23 domestic breweries and distillers.

The industry has since put other innovations in place related to other sustainability issues, such as water consumption and energy consumption, and they have all followed the same principle: it has to make economic sense.

“What makes it sustainable is that there is a compelling reason, not just environmentally but business-wise as well, to put these programs in place. It becomes almost foolish to not do the environmental thing.”

It’s not just the beer bottle that is an icon of sustainability. The packaging the bottles come in is equally designed to be sustainable.

Take the beer case for example. The beer comes off the assembly line and is packaged in cardboard cases with a built-in handle. The beer is delivered by the case to the retailer, who also sells it in the case. The consumer buys it in a case, drinks the beer and return the bottles in the original case to the retailer, who in turn sells the case of bottles back to the brewery.

It’s only then, when the bottles are back on the line to be washed, that the case is taken out of the stream crushed and baled with other cases and diverted to a recycling program.

Surprisingly, other beverage recycling programs are not as successful. In B.C., where consumers prefer beer cans to bottles, there’s a lower rate of return even though the deposit is the same. And other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage bottles and containers have a far lower rate of return, only 80 per cent, according to the website

Zeiler-Kligman attributes the high success rate for the beer bottle return program to the fact that it has been around so long. Other beverage packaging refund programs are more recent.

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Making Shaving Cream With Brewery Waste!

Posted by Maggie on February 29, 2012

Check this out!  I love the creative use of waste. 

InBev Uses Brewery Waste to Make Shaving Cream

 By | February 23rd, 2012

Fans of beer will soon have yet another reason to imbibe, when a new partnership between Anheuser-Busch (now AB-InBev) and a company called Blue Marble Bio takes off. The two firms have launched a venture to convert brewery wasteinto a group of carboxylic acids that have a wide variety of commercial uses, including the manufacture of shaving creams and soaps. This renewable source of carboxylic acids will help the chemical industry along as it transitions out of petroleum-based formulas, and as a side benefit, the process also yields biogas that will be used to generate renewable electricity.

With the new venture, Anheuser-Busch also pushes the “green beer” movement up a few notches beyond the kind of measures that have become expected from responsible beverage companies, such as water conservation, waste reduction and the installation of renewable energy.

Green chemistry and fatty acids

Biogas capture is becoming common at breweries and food production facilities (and dairy farms, too), but Blue Marble Bio’s approach is somewhat unique because of its focus on producing carboxylic acids.

Carboxylic acids, aka fatty acids, naturally occur in both animal fat and vegetable oil.  Among the more common ones are acetic acid, benzoic acid and formic acid.

Their industrial uses are pretty ubiquitous, ranging from things that go in your body or on your skin like food preservatives, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products, to other stuff including rubber, fabrics and solvents.

As far as the emerging trend in non-petroleum “green chemistry” goes, the trick is to produce carboxylic acids on an industrial scale, at a competitive price, without using conventional processes that involve fossil fuels or rare earths.

Making renewable fatty acids with a low carbon footprint

Like beer making, the Blue Marble process is based on fermentation, in which bacteria break down biomass as they digest it. Since the bacteria do most of the heavy lifting on their own, relatively little energy input is needed.

If you’ve been reading up on your biomass-to-biofuel news, the fermentation angle might ring a bell. A good deal of current biofuel research deals with identifying “extreme” microbes that are adept at breaking down the tough cell walls of woody, non-food biomass.

In addition to looking for highly efficient naturally occurring bacteria, researchers are also exploring the potential for genetically engineering a kind of biofuel super-bug.

The Blue Marble process takes the former approach by deploying natural bacteria, with the additional tweak of combining different kinds of bacteria that work together as a liv­­ing “production chain.” The company calls its process AGATE, for “Acid, Gas, and Ammonia Targeted Extraction.”

Getting closer to renewable carboxylic acids

Blue Marble Bio began testing waste grain from Anheuser-Busch about a year ago and is scaling up the process for a small facility in Missoula, Montana.

If all goes well, Blue Marble will develop a pilot-scale biorefinery at an Anheuser-Busch brewery at a yet to be identified location.

As for what the beer maker gets out of it, the company gets the benefit of cutting down on its waste disposal costs and brewery emissions (natural sulfur capture is part of the deal), along with developing a new market for spent grain aside from selling it for livestock feed.

Building a greener beer brand

The partnership also adds a little more green cred to Anheuser-Busch’s sustainability program. In a Memorandum of Understanding for the new partnership, the company stated that:

“We are continuously looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact by reducing energy and water usage, improving the quality of the wastewater that we send to local municipalities, and reducing the environmental impact of our byproducts. Converting our spent grain to green chemicals to replace those that are currently made from fossil fuels aligns well with these goals.”

That puts a nifty green spin on every six-pack you buy, but for those who are uncomfortable around alcohol-related products the AGATE process also deals with non-brewery biomass waste including agricultural waste, yard clippings, wood chips, and food byproducts.

Blue Marble also recently partnered with the University of Montana to adapt the process for algae. That would serve as a sustainability twofer, since the growing algae would capture waste carbon dioxide from the process.

Another piece in the green cultural puzzle

With the solid backing of one of the most iconic brands in the U.S., next-generation sustainability is becoming firmly ensconsed in the cultural mainstream.  Alongside American beer, you can also count professional sports  and the U.S. military as early, enthusiastic adopters of new green tech.

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Vanilla Soda

Posted by Maggie on November 27, 2011

After my great success with the root beer, I thought that I would try a vanilla soda (also known as cream soda but very different from the historic cream soda).  I sterilzed the bottling equipment and bottles and then used the following to make one case:

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1.5 oz. pure vanilla extract (the type used for baking)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp yeast

I dissolved the yeast in some warm water and let it sit for five minutes.  I added the sugar to slightly warm water so that it would dissolve well.  Then I added the yeast mixture and the vanilla and then stirred and bottled.  I hope that it will come out well.  I will update when it is ready. 


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Hop Farming Revival

Posted by Maggie on November 9, 2011

This article by Daniel Fromson in the November 9, 2011 New York Times discusses the revival of hop farming.

Hop Farmers Reviving Heady Days of Brewing


Cazenovia, N.Y.

NEAR the farm that grows the pumpkins for his pumpkin ale and the ranch that raises wagyu beef for the brewpub he owns, David Katleski parked his S.U.V. in the middle of an empty field. “What we’re going to recreate is old hop barns,” he said, surveying a grid of wooden stakes. “Stone hop barns.”

“Are you familiar with the hop barns of Madison County?” his wife, Karen, asked from the back seat.

She was referring not to some steamy romance novel, but to a romantic past: the days when hop barns, those squat, often turretlike structures housing charcoal fires, perfumed the air of central New York with the scent of drying hops. Resinous flowers that give beer its bitterness and flavors of pine, herbs and fruit, hops were a huge part of the local economy in the late 19th century, when New York State grew up to 90 percent of the nation’s supply. But the business withered as beer production became industrialized.

Nearly a century later, the Katleskis and other farmers and craft brewers are trying to revive the region’s hop culture, harnessing the current passion for all things local and artisanal. Just as they and brewers around the country are turning to barley, wheat and other ingredients grown locally, New York beer makers are increasingly using local hops. Some, like the Ithaca Beer Company and Brown’s Brewing Company in Troy, are planning next year to open so-called farm breweries that will raise the crop themselves.

Here in a small organic garden, Mr. Katleski has been growing hops for the Empire Brewing Company, his brewpub in nearby Syracuse, since 2009, and he hopes someday to brew using only local ingredients. The two hop barns he plans to build in the spring will be largely decorative, forming the facade of his Empire Farmstead Brewery, a 20,000-square-foot production and canning center flanked by hop trellises and vegetable gardens — a sort of hop chateau.

Wine terminology is not out of place. Dozens of hop varieties, some scarce and highly sought after, are used in brewing around the world, and connoisseurs say they lend flavors and aromas to beer that are as distinctive and varied as those that grapes and soils give to wine. Mr. Katleski, president of the New York State Brewers Association, said that although New York brewers sometimes use local examples of hop varieties grown in, say, the Pacific Northwest, their beers taste vastly different.

“What I’m getting is a very fruit-forward or grapefruit-forward flavor from the hop, and less bitterness,” he said. “It kind of just comes from the natural terroir.”

So does much of the inspiration for a hop renaissance: Near several breweries lie the vineyards of the Finger Lakes, which have not only won an international reputation but also spawned a side business in tourism.

“We’re trying to create a beer culture in the area, much like you have a wine culture,” said Jeremiah Sprague, a home brewer and full-time vineyard employee who recently helped oversee the first major harvest at Climbing Bines Hop Farm in Penn Yan, which overlooks Seneca Lake. With his high-school friends Chris Hansen and Brian Karweck, Mr. Sprague is transforming the site into a farm brewery where hops will be grown and dried.

“The coolest thing we’re going to have,” he said, “is the ability to offer some estate-hopped ales,” the fruits of the roughly 1,500 hop plants the farm has already cultivated.

A principal goal of the revival effort is agritourism that demonstrates where the ingredients come from. Visitors to Climbing Bines will see that hop vines resemble bushy green telephone poles, and will taste the wide differences among varieties, from grapefruity Cascade to earthy Fuggles to intensely bitter Nugget. Education is even built into the farm’s name: Hop plants are not vines that climb with help from tendrils or suckers, but bines — stems that wrap in spirals around their supports.

Homegrown beers are not unique to New York. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in California and Rogue Ales in Oregon have become known for “estate beers” containing their own hops and barley, a niche pioneered in the 1990s when several California wineries started breweries. Farm breweries have sprung up recently in the East, from New England to North Carolina.

But an unusual concentration of hop farms is emerging in New York, fueled by local history and embodied in a pastoral symbol: the hop barn, where farmers dried, stored and baled their crop for shipping as far away as England.

In 1889, The New York Sun reported a “mania” for hop farming: “A prominent hop-grower describes it as being simply the spirit of Wall Street carried afield.” The industry was destroyed by aphids and mildew, competition from the Pacific Northwest and Prohibition.

Becca Jablonski, a former agricultural specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, said the New York hop revival began in 2000 when enthusiasts gathered to preserve the few remaining barns. Several growers formed the Northeast Hop Alliance, which had at most 10 members until last year, when its first big hop-farming workshop increased the ranks tenfold.

Steve Miller, whom the cooperative extension installed in May as New York’s first hop horticulture specialist, predicted that statewide acreage devoted to hops would more than double next year, to over 100 acres.

Many brewers are excited by the past they are restoring. Randy Lacey is building a classic pitched-roof hop barn near Ithaca to house his Hopshire Farm and Brewery, where he will use waste heat and a wood-fired boiler to dry his hops as traditionally as possible.

Mr. Katleski, meanwhile, has been working with State Senator David J. Valesky and Assemblyman William D. Magee to promote a bill, modeled on a 1976 law that jump-started the state’s wine industry, that would create a special license for farm breweries that use a designated percentage of New York-grown ingredients. The bill, which would reduce licensing costs and logistical barriers to tourism, has encountered no opposition, Mr. Valesky said.

Even if the legislation passes, the state’s farm brewing movement will be slow to develop. Hop plants take three years to reach maturity, and harvesting and processing equipment is scarce.

Still, the growers who have dabbled in hops, harvesting mostly by hand, say technology suited to their small farms is becoming more available.

Ultimately, what they are betting on is the sense of place that their products will convey, a selling point that is nowhere more evident than on the western shore of Seneca Lake. Sandwiched between vineyards, Climbing Bines Hop Farm slopes toward the water; a hop trellis fashioned from 150 black locust tree trunks stands postcard-ready.

“We’ll utilize what, specifically, this part of the world has to offer,” Mr. Karweck said. “Because we’ve traveled, and we’ve done some things, and we choose to call this place home.”

A Beer Sampler

Not sure how hops smell or taste? Here are a few widely available brews that hint at the many possibilities.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager The best-known American craft beer made with “noble hops,” central European varieties with floral, spicy aromas and minimal bitterness.

Bass Pale Ale A good example of the muted earthy, woody flavors and aromas associated with English hops.

Pilsner Urquell The spiciness of the Saaz hop, a noble Czech variety, complements the crisp, clean taste of this archetypal pilsner.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale The beer that popularized Cascade hops, whose piney, citrusy profile, which is typical of many American hop varieties, has made it a mainstay of domestic pale ales.

Stone India Pale Ale In West Coast IPA’s like this one, American hops add intense herbal and citrus fruit flavors and a pronounced bitterness.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA A more restrained IPA typical of East Coast versions of the style, in which citrusy American hops are balanced by large doses of malt. 

Posted in Beer Ingredients | 1 Comment »