ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. — For some, craft beer is a culture. That’s why so many volunteers were willing and eager to spend their Sunday picking hops.

“I love going on Brewery tours, you learn something new every time,” said AnnMarie Inman, a volunteer. “And I wanted to come here and help my local brewery.”

While volunteers were treated to free food and Saranac drinks they were schooled on how to harvest the best hops.

“They have a little chemical inside called Lupulin,” said Jim Wrobel, the owner/operator of Wrobel Farms. “It’s a little powder. And if you grab the cone the wrong way you split it into two pieces. And if you split it into two pieces you lose some of that powder. Any improper handling will affect the taste of the beer.

Makers of Saranac beer said it’s important for them to harvest locally. The hops at Wrobel Farms are heirloom and date all the way back to the 1850s.

“They historically actually did grow hops here and then have brought them back with the resurgence of hops in New York state,” said Nick Matt, Chairman and C.E.O of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company. “And in fact I was picking hops with a man who wants to start a hops farm. It’s really starting to get to be a really interesting piece of business for New York state.”

Volunteers agree and said they’re excited to be part of the bigger picture.