Once the hop king of the U.S., Central New York takes on a much smaller – but historically significant – role in production of the key beer ingredient these days.
A vibrant community of hop growers in the 10 counties that make up Brew Central has been reviving the region’s roots and craft beer scene recently.
Ideal soil conditions and an advantageous latitude led to a hop boom here in the late 1800s, when the sight of bines was as common as cornstalks. If you made beer in turn-of-the-20th-century America, you probably used hops from Central New York.
Hop Heritage of Central New York
Some 90 percent of the nation’s hops were grown in Central New York and the industry lasted until disease and Prohibition wiped it out. Most production moved out West to Washington, Oregon and Idaho, where most hops are grown today.
In 1890, Brew Central and upstate New York were home to some 36,670 acres of hops. For comparison, Washington – the current largest U.S. producer – has about 32,100 acres, according to Hop Growers of America.
The combination of lush hop-growing conditions and rich history have been a catalyst for a new age of hop production and craft beer artistry.
Today, New York ranks fifth in hop acreage, some of which you can find in . Farmstead breweries like Empire and Local 315 dot the landscape here while about a dozen other growers like Foothill Hops and The Bineyard supply many local brewers.
Even F.X. Matt Brewing Co., the 15th-largest beer producer in the U.S., has a hop harvest event at a local farm each fall when fans of the Saranac brand pitch in to create a limited-edition brew. Cooperstown’s nationally renowned Brewery Ommegang has also integrated homegrown hops into some limited releases.
Hop to It
This growing tribute to the Central New York‘s hop history produces one-of-a-kind flavors that craft beer connoisseurs can only experience in America’s Craft Brew Destination. Visit farm breweries, test local ingredients at numerous tasting rooms and craft your own adventure in Central New York.