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Maryland’s first on-farm brewery hosts partnership event
By CARYL VELISEK
MT. AIRY, Md. (Nov. 29, 2016) — Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm, was the scene of a kick-off on Nov. 16 announcing a partnership between the University of Maryland and the Brewers Association of Maryland.
The event focused on growing hops and variety selection in the state, showcasing the university’s first ever hop trials in a limited edition rye pale ale, brewed by Milkhouse Brewery, Maryland’s first farm brewery.
“This was the best first-year hop yard I’ve ever seen,” said Tom Barse, owner of Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm, of the trials growing at the University’s Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, Md.
The hop trials are managed by Bryan Butler, agriculture agent in Carroll County. In 2017, Butler plans to test 24 new varieties of hops, as well as barley.
Brewers will have the opportunity to examine and provide feedback on the hops prior to being sent to labs for more scientific data.
Butler said he envisions a highly collaborative relationship with Maryland brewers to support their production needs.
With the expansion of the brewing industry throughout the state, local farms have been able to take advantage of a 2012 law allowing on-site brewing, which also mandates the use of Maryland-grown hops and other ingredients.
Barse helped draft the law, which is based on similar farmhouse brewery laws in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, and several other states.
He had been growing hops for several Maryland breweries, including Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick and Clipper City Brewery in Baltimore, for several years.
“I realized we could make more money by selling beer rather than selling hops,” he said, adding his farmhouse brewery now accounts for 90 percent of his earnings. On the brewery side of the farm, Barse said they host three festivals a year and sell to 50 or 60 stores, restaurants and at farmers markets.
Stillpoint Farm also raises sheep and hay for the horse industry.
Currently, there are five farmhouse breweries operating in Maryland, and about 40 breweries statewide.
Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Brewers Association of Maryland, said he expects to see that number double in a few months. Attacks also said the association has 80 members in the state cultivating barley, hops, rye and malt for area breweries.
It was noted during the program, that U.S. hops have not only been thrust into the limelight of the brewing industry and the world’s attention, but they are also acknowledged as the catalyst of the craft beer movement.
Thanks to their unique and strong aromatics and the ability of U.S. growers to rapidly ramp up production, the United States has become identified as an ideal location to source aroma hops.