01 July 2016
Bradenton, FL. – Motorworks Brewing became one of the first commercial brewery to brew a beer with Florida-Grown wet hops. The hops were hand-harvested in the Tampa Bay area on independent grower Matt Harper’s farm in Riverview, locally-grown, pesticide-free Cascade hops star in their new American Pale Ale.
Matt’s small, completely organic farm specializes in a “holistic approach to growing everything, using diverse biology and organic matter.” Through innovative methods like using disease-free tissue culture plant-stock, Matt says he’s “very excited about the future of hops in Florida.” The first harvest of 72 plants yielded three pounds of fresh wet hops, and Matt says “it’s reassuring that we’ve already achieved a harvestable crop. There’s not much data floating around, so it’s exciting to know that we can now replicate this moving forward and expect higher yields as the plants mature.”
The next step is examining the hops through the seasons and seeing how they respond to Florida’s climate, and I’m curious to see how hops react to this environment, what this region has to offer and what kind of flavors they impart.” The toughest part, he says, “is that other areas have established industries where a lot of people are pooling knowledge and have access to serious equipment. There’s none of that here because it’s a non-existent industry in Florida. There’s a lot of unknown factors as it’s an entirely new frontier.”
The vast majority of hops used are dried and pelletized and primarily from the Pacific Northwest. Through pelletization fresh hops lose a substantial amount of their characteristic oils, imbuing bitterness to beer (IBUs) but little in the way of flavor or aroma. The opportunity to use a fresh hop harvest grown in Florida, just thirty minutes up the road, was an extremely exciting prospect for the entire Motorworks Brewing team.
“Three pounds of fresh hops went into a 3.5-barrel American Pale Ale. The wet hops were added in the final whirlpool to maximize flavor” notes Head Brewer Bob Haa. This allows the wet hops to take center stage. Freshness is paramount when using wet hops, & these hops went from bine-to-brew in just 18 hours.
Motorworks Brewing is honored to have been approached by farmer Matt to collaborate on a brew using fresh Florida hops – new territory for brewers in Florida. Matt joined Motorworks Brewing this morning to work with the brewers throughout the process. All parties involved are eager to taste for themselves the singular properties imparted by Florida’s soil and climate, and enthusiastic about the future of a sustainable hop crop grown right here in the Sunshine State and its implications for Tampa Bay’s flourishing craft beer culture.
“We believe Matt’s found a way to grow hops fairly efficiently & this first crop is high quality,” says Bob. “I think a lot of breweries are going to be very excited about the viability of a commercial crop in Florida.”
Matt looks forward to working directly with brewers and breweries and getting feedback on the hops he’s grown. Join Motorworks Brewing, in Bradenton Florida, on Thursday, June 30th for a chance to try this American Pale Ale that Matt and Motorworks Brewing hope, above all else, will showcase the fresh, unique flavors of Florida-grown wet hops.