Flying Dog Brewery & University of Maryland Partner on Hops Production Initiative

imageFrom Flying Dog:

Maryland’s largest brewery and the University of Maryland (UMD) are committed to developing

the highest quality ingredients for Maryland beer.

Flying Dog has engaged with UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in a

partnership that will allow them to work side-by- side on the future of beer-centric agriculture in

the region. To start, the focus is on hops.

“Hop farming in the state of Maryland continues to grow, and what we appreciate most about

the program is the practical approach to the business of beer agriculture,” Matt Brophy, chief

operating officer for Flying Dog, said. “It’s equal parts commitment to the development of our

existing farms and providing local breweries with the highest quality ingredients.”

Hops used in craft beer production need to meet the same quality standards that are achieved

in traditional hop growing regions around the world. Understanding this dynamic, UMD has

established a replicated variety trial using 24 varieties of hops at the Western Maryland

Research and Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville, Maryland. The trials will collect critical

information on how Maryland’s unique climate affects harvest date, levels of acids and oil in

the hops, and any special aspects of profile.

“I am thrilled to be part of a partnership with a business leader in the state that has the

foresight to help an entire industry grow using research-based information,” Bryan Butler,

extension agent for UMD, said.

The current planting consists of 24 varieties of hops with each variety replicated three times.

The first 12 varieties – planted in 2016 – were selected from discussions with academic and

industry experts on what might perform well in this area and what was being used by brewers.

The second 12 varieties were selected based on an informal survey of Maryland growers and

brewers to establish what might be most marketable in this region.

As a land grant institution, the University of Maryland aims to provide information to producers

on the viability and marketability of these varieties, as producers will need research-based

details on not only varieties, but also disease, insect and fertility management specific to the

mid-Atlantic, quality analysis of harvested hops and economic viability of hops as a crop.

To compliment the program, Flying Dog will help fund hop processing equipment for UMD and

provide resources to analyze and evaluate each test crop the program harvests. Flying Dog will

also develop beers using those hops, eliciting feedback from and exposing craft beer fans to the

full potential of local hops.

“One of the most critical components of data collection for this trial is the timing of harvest

because it directly affects the value of the crop,” Butler said. “Harvesting must be done

consistently, and within a narrow window of time, to ensure maximum production, quality, and

comparison of varieties. Flying Dog’s partnership will allow us to invest in a harvester, which

will ensure that hops are harvested properly, and that data on each yield is realistic and

relevant to growers.”

A culmination of these hop trials will be an annual guide that both UMD and Flying Dog will

produce on growing hops in the mid-Atlantic, which will summarize best management practices

specific to this region, something Brophy thinks is crucial to the continued growth and

development of local hop farms.

UMD will also work with Flying Dog on the East Coast Hop Project, a limited-edition variety pack

slated for release in the spring of 2018. It will feature three different beers, each one

highlighting a different East Coast hop farm and regionally-viable hop varieties. Black Locust

Hops, located in northern Baltimore County, and Pleasant Valley Hops, located in Rohrersville,

Maryland, have already signed onto the project.

“By promoting and engaging East Coast hop farms, Flying Dog and UMD hope to accelerate

both supply and demand for quality local hops,” Brophy said.

About Bil Cord

Founder, owner, author, graphic designer, CEO, CFO, webmaster, president, mechanic and janitor for Producer and Co-host of the WILK Friday BeerBuzz live weekly craft beer radio show. Small craft-brewer of the craft beer news sites and one-man-band with way too many instruments to play.

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