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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Large Hop Farm to be Established in Northern Michigan


Craft beer interest is growing at an steady rate for the past 10-15 years. According to The Brewers Association, craft beer sales increased by 17.2% in 2013 while overall beer sales decreased by 1.9%. Obviously, as the sales increased the product had to increase to meet demand. Craft beer production increased by 18% in 2013, while overall beer production decreased by 2%. With all the constant increase in sales and production the demand for craft beer ingredients are undoubtedly increasing. Can the small farmers keep up with this demand?

According to report by Monroe News, a Traverse City investment group is prepared to break ground on a 400-acre hops farm in Williamsburg,MI once the ground thaws. The news article continues, "The new farm, MI Local Hops, will be larger than most Michigan hops farms, which Michigan State University Extension hops expert Rob Sirrine said typically come in at five to 10 acres."

With MI Local Hops looking to establish such a large hop farm, roughly 40 times larger then other Michigan hop farms, I wonder if this farm will keep the philosophy of the craft beer industry intact. This hop farm could easily pot a lot of the smaller hop farms out of business. Craft beer is about collaboration and enthusiasm about putting out a great product. They don't do it for the financial gain, though this helps keep the doors open and allows them to use top of the line equipment.

Hopefully MI Local Hops will team up with the smaller hop farms to continue to provide amazing products to the Michigan craft breweries as well as other craft breweries around the country. Michigan hops could become as popular as the Oregon hops. If I am lucky, I will be able to contact one of the smaller hop farms to discuss this issue in more detail for my podcast, Slurred Words. For now, I hope such a large hop farm will improve the craft beer in Michigan and allow for breweries to increase their production and distribution.