Hops farmers see boom in business with Ohio craft beer

Sept. 28, 2016: See what's brewing in Northeast Ohio from the fields of a Wadsworth farm.

WADSWORTH, Ohio -- Northeast Ohio is making a name for itself in the craft beer industry, and it's not just the beer bringing in money.

There's a trickle-down effect, allowing everyone from bottlers to farmers to reap the benefits.

Jenny Napier grows perennial plants for a living, but on half of her Wadsworth farm, she's growing the basis for liquid gold: Hops vines.

“They take about three years to grow, to fully mature, they're similar to a grape vine.”

Before prohibition and the Great Depression, Ohio was one of the biggest states in terms of hops production.

Then the industry moved west.

“But in Ohio, we have great soil,” Napier says. “We are on a similar parallel to Bavaria and Germany and Slovenia.”

As part of his retirement, her husband bought a harvesting machine. His hops pellets are now being turned into craft beer at Ohio City's market garden brewery for a new all-Ohio beer.

“We wanted to develop a bit of an identity to an Ohio IPA with the hops coming from Ohio,” says Mike Foran, co-owner of Market Garden Brewery. “You get a lot of hops out of the Pacific Northwest, a lot of breweries out west trend toward that. But we wanted the opportunity to define what an Ohio IPA can be.”

The hops have a certain acidity, so just like wine has distinctive flavor depending on the region, Market Garden’s crew knows an Ohio beer will have the same effect.

Everything from the maltster to the cardboard carrier will be from Northeast Ohio, keeping the industry and money local.

“About 40 million dollars goes out of the state for brewers to acquire those materials,” Napier says. “If we can keep that here, hey that's good for Ohio.”


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