Mid Atlantic Brewing News October/November 2010 : Page 1
By MABN Staff Brewer Jason Oliver (l) from Devils Back-bone Brewing talks with David Bernard at his MadHops farm. Oliver used Bernard’s whole cone hops to brew his Blue Ridge Hop Revival. ILLUSTRATIONS BY: HANS GRANHEIM By MABN Staff ard cider has gone from being an anachronism, a quaint holdover from colonial days, to the fastest-growing category of strong drink in America. It’s even outpacing craft beer. So far this year, case sales are up over 12% in grocery and convenience stores, according to industry consultant Bump Williams. Most of that increase comes from national companies like Vermont’s Woodchuck Hard Cider (which is releasing what might be the world’s first-ever pumpkin cider this fall). But the cider revival has also sparked small, farmhouse operations that grow and press their own apples ...not just culinary varieties like Macintosh, but bittersweets and bittersharps, strains rich in tannins and acids. These apples aren’t suitable for See Cider p. 6 “I think this very well may be the first commercial hop sale in Virginia in over a hundred years,” said Jason Oliver of the 130 lb of fresh-picked Cascade hops he bought this summer from Nelson County farmer David Bernard. Oliver, head brewer for the Devil’s Backbone Brewing INSIDE What Some People Won't Do ............. 5 Estate Beers ......................................... 7 Breweries of Schuylkill ..................... 10 Homebrew News ................................ 12 Book Review ...................................... 16 Matter of Import ................................. 17 Maps and Directories ........................ 18 Kvass: Beer of the People ............... 32 Co. in Roseland, Va., used the whole-cone hops for a “rustic, super-hoppy ale” he called Blue Ridge Hop Revival. Bernard hopes to set up a web site this fall to sell his hops, freeze-dried and vacuum-packed, to professional and amateur brewers alike. See Hops pg. 4 State by State News Virginia ..................14 C. Pennsylvania ...22 Philadelphia ..........24 E. Pennsylvania ....26 Maryland ...............28 Baltimore ..............30. New Jersey ...........34 W. Virginia ............36 Delaware ..............37 Washington DC ....38
Dont Stop The Press
Hard cider has gone from being an anachronism, a quaint holdover from colonial days, to the fastest-growing category of strong drink in America.It’s even outpacing craft beer. So far this year, case sales are up over 12% in grocery and convenience stores, according to industry consultant Bump Williams.Most of that increase comes from national companies like Vermont’s Woodchuck Hard Cider (which is releasing what might be the world’s first ever pumpkin cider this fall).<br /> <br /> But the cider revival has also sparked small, farmhouse operations that grow and press their own apples ...not just culinary varieties like Macintosh, but bittersweets and bitter sharps, strains rich in tannins and acids. These apples aren’t suitable for Munching—they’re called “spitters” for a reason—but they make wonderful dry, complex, champagne-like ciders.<br /> <br /> The newest of this fresh crop of cideries is Maryland’s Distillery Lane Ciderworks, which opened Sept. 4 just outside of the village of Burkittsville, west of Frederick. Owner Rob Miller oversees nearly 3,000 apple trees producing over 20 apple varieties. He started the orchard back in 2001 on historic ground that saw military action during the Civil War’s Battle of South Mountain in 1862.<br /> <br /> The property was acquired by the state of Maryland to protect it from residential development. The Miller family had to get approval from the Maryland Historic Trust before they could build the new cider house.<br /> <br /> Until Miller obtained the necessary licensing this summer, Distillery Lane sold sweet cider only. Now he makes a 6-7% abv cider that will vary from season to season, depending on what apples are ripe.<br /> <br /> For his grand opening (“the turnout exceeded our wildest expectations ... 800 to 1,000 people showed up”), Miller offered a semidry cider fermented from a blend of Saint Edmund’s Russet and Bulmer’s Norman apples. Ten dollars bought you a 750-ml bottle. “We limited sales to one bottle per person so that no one would go home disappointed and we nearly sold out our first bottling of 50 cases,” Miller announced proudly.<br /> <br /> For Halloween, Miller is planning a Burkittsville “Witches Brew.” (Why not? The horror film The Blair Witch Project was filmed near here.) That cider will be fermented from Sweet Coppin and Redfield apples, and will have a “nice red color that the ghosts and goblins might enjoy.” <br /> <br /> To pair with your Thanksgiving dinner, Miller promises an “American traditional” made from such American heritage varieties as Roxbury, Golden Russet, Gravenstein and Hewes Crab.<br /> <br /> Miller hopes to get his ciders into some Frederick restaurants, but for now they’re available only at his farm.<br /> <br /> <b>Pennsylvania’s Pink Lady</b> <br /> <br /> In Pennsylvania, Reid’s Orchard, a sprawling farm complex in the Buchanan Valley northwest of Gettysburg, has been growing heirloom varieties of apples, pears, tomatoes and peaches for years. In March 2009 owners Dave and Kathy Reid opened a winery that also produces hard cider. This year, Dave anticipates making about 250 cases of 22-oz bottles of cider, approximately 10% of his output.<br /> <br /> Reid uses almost 100% Pink Lady apples, a popular cider apple related to the American Golden Delicious and also known as Cripps Pink. He holds much of his production in wooden barrels before bottling.A few stray barrels of varietal ciders from 2005 and 2006 still loiter in the winery. “I’m not sure what I’ll do with them,” says Reid, “probably see if I can blend them with a newer batch in the future.” <br /> <br /> Reid’s Orchard is hampered by legal quirks. Pennsylvania regulations allow him to sell his alcoholic products only at his orchard’s winery and at a single other outlet in Gettysburg. Most of the farm’s produce is sold in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC farmers’ markets, but Reid is unable to sell his cider and wine there, even though it’s also from down on the farm. Reid hopes this will change in the near future, but he adds, “I’ll let someone else do the legal work to make that happen, though.” <br /> <br /> In Virginia’s far southwestern corner, you’ll find Foggy Ridge Cider in remote Dugspur. The cidery and orchard are the result of twelve years of hard work on the part of banker-turned-cidermaker Diane Flynt and her husband Chuck. On twelve acres, the couple grows 1,000 trees of thirty apple varieties. They sell their ciders at various retailers and restaurants throughout the state, including the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. In Roseland. They’re even in an establishment or two in DC. The 750-ml bottles of Serious Cider, Sweet Stayman and First Fruit, all at 8% abv, retail for around $15 a bottle. Flynt also makes Pippin Gold, a blend of cider and 80-proof apple brandy from the Laird & Company distillery in Scobeyville, NJ. She recommends soaking peaches in it and serving with pound cake as dessert.<br /> <br /> <b>Reviving Jefferson’s Legacy</b. <br /> <br /> Not far from Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson commented in 1819 that “malt liquors and cider are my table drinks,” Albemarle CiderWorks opened in July 2009.It’s an offshoot of Vintage Virginia Apples, an orchard where the Shelton family grows 250 rare and heirloom apple varieties, as well as peaches, plum and other fruits. They recently started experimenting with pears.<br /> <br /> Brother Chuck is the cider maker, Brother Bill is the orchardist, and big sister Charlotte is the front-woman. They produce four distinctive ciders, which are fermented to complete dryness with a wine yeast, and measure 7% abv. Two (Royal Pippin, Old Virginia Winesap) are varietals, made from a single type of apple. Jupiter’s Legacy (named after a slave who bottled cider at Monticello) is fermented from several traditional American cider apples that “are rarely grown today,” according to Charlotte.Ragged Mountain is made from classic Blue Ridge Mountain varieties.<br /> <br /> Albemarle CiderWorks sells its products at various outlets in nearby Charlottesville and at the cidery itself ($5 for a glass, $16 for a bottle). You can also buy Ben Watson’s book Cider Hard and Sweet, an excellent source on cider apples, cider-making and cider’s place in American history. Watson writes, for instance, that when George Washington ran for the Virginia legislature in 1758, he had his agent dole out almost three imperial gallons of booze (including much cider) to each voter. Our second president John Adams drank a tankard of cider every morning as an eye opener.<br /> <br /> Even today cider appears to be a magnet for politicians. In July 2009, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine paid a visit to the newly opened Albemarle CiderWorks, lingering for an hour-and-a-Half and taking home a few complimentary bottles.<br /> <br /> Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley couldn’t make it to Distillery Lane’s opening, but he did send a letter of congratulations and dispatched a rep from the state’s Dept. of Agriculture to cut the opening ribbon.<br /> <br /> Nevertheless, “he’s off the Christmas card list for sure,” jokes Miller.
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Farmers Prospect For green gold
“I think this very well may be the first commercial hop sale in Virginia in over a hundred years,” said Jason Oliver of the 130 lb of fresh-picked Cascade hops he bought this summer from Nelson County farmer David Bernard. Oliver, head brewer for the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. In Roseland, Va., used the whole-cone hops for a “rustic, super-hoppy ale” he called Blue Ridge Hop Revival.<br /> <br /> Bernard hopes to set up a web site this fall to sell his hops, freeze-dried and vacuum-packed, to professional and amateur brewers alike.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Tom Barse and wife Carol McConaughy run Stillpoint Farm, a small operation in Frederick County’s wine country just north of Mt. Airy. Md. And a brief jaunt south of Westminster.Barse, a longtime homebrewer (he began in 1972 when his father bought him a British homebrew kit for his 18th birthday), planted approximately half an acre of hop bines last year. The entire crop, said Barse, was purchased by Clipper City Brewing Co.In Baltimore for use as finishing hops for firkins.<br /> <br /> “Hugh Sisson told me, when he got his hops in 2009, that he’d never had hops that fresh,” says Barse of Clipper City’s owner. This year Barse harvested 250 lb of Cascade and 20 lb of Chinook in spite of a scorching, dry summer, selling to four other local breweries. He has bigger plans for next year, which include converting an old dairy to a farmhouse microbrewery to be called Milkhouse Brewing Co.<br /> <br /> Since the great hop shortage three years ago, which saw prices for some key varieties rise briefly to $20 or even $30 a pound, hop farms have sprouted across the country ... from the Star B Buffalo Ranch and Hop Farm near San Diego, Calif. To Aroostook Hops in Westfield, Maine. In Chicago, executive chef Myk Banas of the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile is raising hops in converted horse troughs in a rooftop garden on the hotel’s ninth floor.Eventually, he hopes to turn the cones over to a local microbrewery to make a unique house beer for the hotel bar.<br /> <br /> “Good luck!” says Ralph Olson to these hop homesteaders, with more than a little sarcasm in his voice. Olson is a 32-year veteran of the hop industry and a partner in Yakima, Wash.-based Hopunion, the nation’s leading supplier of hops to small breweries.<br /> <br /> Back in 2008, when the hop shortage was making national headlines, Olson was fielding “at least a call a day” from would-be growers. In fact, we’ve gone from a dearth of hops to a glut, he adds. “We just took out about 2,000 acres in the Northwest.” Olson can tick off a dozen reasons why these small independent hop farmers are unlikely to make a killing. Hops, which grow on bristly perennial bines 10-15 ft tall, are labor-intensive to harvest.<br /> <br /> They’re a smorgasbord for numerous fungal and insect pests. The machinery to bale, dry and pelletize the hops is expensive and isn’t found outside the Pacific Northwest, where well over 99% of the country’s hops are harvested.<br /> <br /> If a brewery wants to plant a few bines for P. R. purposes or to yield cones for a once-a-year harvest ale, that’s all well and good, says Olson.But he warns commercial growers that hops are a highly specialized, one-use crop: if the brewers aren’t buying, or paying too little, the farmer has no alternative but to plow his hops under .<br /> <br /> <b>From Field to Front Door</b> <br /> <br /> Local hop farmers retort that they’re not competing with the big hop farms in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Instead of growing high-alpha acid bittering hops for the national breweries, they’re providing the aroma varieties prized for the citrusy and resiny flavors they impart to American ales.<br /> <br /> They can also provide fresher product to local customers.<br /> <br /> “I hand-deliver green, fresh-picked, right-off-the-vine hops,” says Tim Manchego, who runs Pompey Mountain Hops Farm in central New York. He boasts of a shipment he made to Ellicottville Brewing Co. In Ellicottville, NY: “We stopped picking at 5 p.m. and got there by 9 p. m.” What’s more, delivery is free, which is not the case if you’re air-freighting fresh hops from Yakima.<br /> <br /> Similarly, Bruce Ringier, who grows hops on a 70-acre farm in Sussex County, NJ, was able to rush 100 lb of Cascade and Chinook Hops—his entire harvest—to Cricket Hill Brewing Co. In Fairfield, NJ for a wet hop ale.<br /> <br /> “We’re not big enough to supply anybody’s full needs,” said Maryland farmer Tom Barse. “Clipper City alone uses 26,000 lb a year of fresh hops for their beers and firkins.” But he hopes to supply Maryland brewers with fresher hops for dry-hopping and finishing specialty ales. “I’m convinced I’m going to sell every single ounce,” he said.<br /> <br /> Small hop growers also hope that the prospect of locally grown hops, raised without artificial fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides, will be especially enticing to craft brewers. Justin Hilling is seeking organic certification from the State of Pennsylvania for his Flying Squirrel Hop Farm in Huntingdon, just south of State College. Hilling, who supplies Cascades, Centennial and Nugget hops to Otto’s Pub and Brewery in State College and Elk Creek in Millheim, testifies that certification is an arduous process, involving paperwork, field tests, soil sampling and periodic inspections.“But it absolutely adds value. ... Sustainable agriculture is definitely an interest in this area.” <br /> <br /> <b>Hop Ketchup, Anyone?</b><br /> <br /> Some of these hop farmers are finding new uses for their crop. Manchego offers hop-flavored ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce. “My wife put herself through college as a chef,” he explains. “We dice the hops, grind them, and use them as a spice. You get the bitterness, the aroma and that green, rich flavor.” <br /> <br /> Katie Dawley of Burnside Farms in Haymarket, Va., a diversified organic farm about 30 miles south of our nation’s capital, fashioned some of her hops into cut flowers for a wedding ceremony. “The bride, when she found out we were growing hops, said her dad was obsessed with craft beer. If you could put hops in his boutonniere, it would mean a lot.” <br /> <br /> Dawley, whose products range from flowers to heirloom tomatoes to honey, planted 18 bines this year as an experiment.Those hops not used for the wedding were harvested by Brandon Skall of DC Brau in Washington, DC. He hopes to use them in a special batch of beer after his microbrewery becomes fully operational in 2011.<br /> <br /> Local hop growers are also improvising their own harvesting equipment to alleviate the tedium of hand-picking, Virginia hop farmer David Bernard says he modified a cherry picker to rip the bines off the trellises, and set up a system of pulleys to drop them into a tower where three hired hands stood ready to pluck off the cones. “One of my guys found out that an Afro pick is the perfect tool for removing hops,” he chuckles.
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