WASHINGTON — Flying Dog Brewery, Maryland’s largest craft brewer, has partnered with the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources on a project to find out which hops varieties do the best when grown in Maryland.
Flying Dog is providing equipment and funding a major portion of the research project.
The experiments are part of a larger, long-term partnership between the school and Flying Dog working on the future of beer-centric agriculture in the region.
“As craft beer has become more popular there has been a lot of research into new hops varieties that give us a broader range of flavors and aromas, but most of that work is being done in the Pacific Northwest and in Germany,” said Flying Dog COO Matt Brophy.
“What we’ve found here in Maryland with the few established growers that there are, we’re seeing that certain varieties do very well. What we’re doing with the University of Maryland is to see what other varieties might work well and in the long-term what the sustainability of these crops looks like,” he said.
The university has established a variety trial using 24 varieties of hops at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, Maryland, and will collect information on how Maryland’s unique climate affects harvest dates, levels of acids and oils in the hops and any special aspects of profile.
The hops project will be a three- to five-year process, so researchers can get a few growing seasons’ worth of results. The ultimate goal is to print a guide for Maryland growers and to get growers to interact with brewers to provide what they want.
Beer drinkers will get a chance to judge the results of the research as well.
“We’re looking to partner with farms in Maryland primarily and maybe in New York, and do some collaborative brews and basically come out with a variety pack (of beers) next spring with at least three different beers that tell the story of some of these re-emerging hops farmers on the East Coast,” Brophy said.
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