Talk hops with the modern American brewer and the conversation will likely drift to the Pacific Northwest. The region boasts the perfect growing conditions for hops, so whether you’re in Cleveland or Albuquerque, you’re probably enjoying a beer brewed with hops from that area. According to the Hop Growers of America, in 2011, 100 percent of commercial hop production in the United States came out of Washington (78%), Oregon (14.5%) and Idaho (7.5%).
Flash back a century and that was not the case. Believe it or not, there was a time when Central New York ruled the hop industry. The state attained national leadership in hop production in 1849, and was selling over three million pounds annually by 1855.
Sadly, the Empire State lost its footing in the hops market when Prohibition slayed all things beer related in the country. A killer fungus in the early 20th century also played its own role in putting the nail in the coffin of New York’s hop industry.
Sensing economic possibilities and the state’s hoppy past, Governor Andrew Cuomo worked with area brewers in 2012 to create a farm brewery license to promote the use of local ingredients.
“The legislation signed today demonstrates that the new New York is truly working for small business, as this law will allow breweries and wineries the opportunity to invest in new opportunities and expand their operations,” Governor Cuomo said in a July 2012 statement.
A little over a year later, and Central New York is already seeing benefits of this legislation throughout Madison County in the form of Harvest Moon Cidery, Henneberg Tavern, Foothill Farms, Empire Brewing Company and Good Nature Brewing.
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