SPEAKER 1: This is a production of Cornell University.
SPEAKER 2: New York is fermenting a renaissance. Once the leading producer of hops and beer in the United States, our state is beginning to see a vibrant revival in hops cultivation and the growth of microbreweries. At a Cornell reunion 2014 lecture at Mann Library, Steve Miller, hops specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, and Randy Lacey, '77, masters engineer '99, owner of Hopshire farm and brewery in Freeville, New York, present a look at the history and current developments in the production of hops and the emergence of farm breweries in the state. This program was presented in conjunction with Mann Library's summer exhibit, For a Quart of Ale is a Dish Fit For a King, the Craft Beer Tradition and its Revival in New York State.
STEVE MILLER: I'm going to talk a little bit about the hop industry in New York, what it was like 100 years ago, and what's going on with it now. We won't get into a lot of detail on how to grow hops, but I do have some fact sheets in the back that are for people who are interested in growing hops, kind of a home garden. And then if you're really interested in commercially, there's also some factsheets about that too. And we have a lot of these online as well.
So hops are a very interesting crop. There really aren't too many other plants that are related to it. Anybody know what the closest relative is? Yeah, marijuana. And they both are known for the essential oils that the plant produces. And hops don't produce the same oils that marijuana does, and vice versa.
But there are about 400 oils that are produced in hops. And that's something that brewers are just starting to learn now. Because if you know anything about brewing, Randy is going to talk about that. But you're cooking the hops, and you're heating them up. And in some cases, you're releasing oils out into the air. In other cases, you're not. So Randy will be able to talk more about that.
But I'm going to talk about the plant and the industry in New York. And this is what we're-- these are hop cones, and this is what we're harvesting here, the cones. And this lupulin is the package of chemicals that are along the central stem of the cone. And that's what we're using for the flavoring in beer. Does anybody know when they started using hops in beer? Any history buffs or real--
SPEAKER 3: [INAUDIBLE]
STEVE MILLER: Yeah, it's around 900 or so that they do now have actual evidence that it was being used in Europe. And before that, they were using other herbs. And why would people put hops or herbs in beer?
SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE]
STEVE MILLER: Yes. Who said that? All right. So we've got home brewers here. They were used for flavoring. But they also are a preservative. Hops are very anti-microbial and anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. And if you use enough of them in there, they will actually help preserve the beer. Because remember, back then you'd make this slop of beer that people would get the alcohol out of. And then within a couple of days, they would be full of mold and bacteria. And this is before Pasteur's time. So they did use hops to preserve the beer and keep it from spoiling.
The New York state was the biggest producer of hops in the country and actually in the world at that time. Starting in about 1808, hops were first planted in Madison County right here in New York. And from that point, we grew to be producing about 90% of the hops in the whole country. Most of them were shipped to New York City,. And people do ask, well, why so many right here in the leather-stocking area, say between Cazenovia and Cooperstown? Yes?
SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE]
STEVE MILLER: I'm sorry?
SPEAKER 5: Germans.
STEVE MILLER: Oh, Germans OK. Well, that was part of it. But they could have settled anywhere. I think the main thing is, is that the transportation to New York City. Remember in 1808, there weren't any roads. There weren't railroads. But there were canals. And so getting the hops to market, you wanted to be close. But you also wanted to have good soils and a good site requirements that are needed for hops. So they did move. Eventually we had hops in every county in the state. But the major production area was kind of in between Cazenovia and Cooperstown.
And this is what it looked like when you were harvesting hops. They grow 18 feet tall, and they were grown on poles, and you can see the poles in the background. And the plants would grow individually up those poles. And then the men would go out in the field, and they'd have these hop pullers, and they would pull the whole pole out. They'd cut the plant, and then bring it to an area where the women and children would actually pick the hops.
And you'll notice that they're all wearing long sleeves. And that's-- remember, it was August, September. It's hot out. But they're wearing long sleeves not because of Victorian modesty, but because hops are very abrasive. Has anybody picked any? So you know that you don't go out with short sleeves and start picking hops. But--
SPEAKER 6: [INAUDIBLE]
STEVE MILLER: Yes. It's not like you're going to-- it's not like poison ivy or something where the oils are going to cause a rash. But if you're out in a hop yard and you start handling them, they're very abrasive. And in fact, during windy times, hops are even abrasive to each other. And you'll see that the leaves will have a lot of scratches and scoring on them because the damage from just the wind blowing leaves against each other.
This was 1905, so this is typically what it would look like. And they would have a box with four sections, and four families would sit there, and they would fill a box. And then you get a little ticket that was worth about $0.25. And at the end of the season, you'd turn those tickets in, and you'd get some money. So they didn't pay you the day that you're picking because they were afraid that people wouldn't come back. Or they would go out and spend the money. So they paid you towards the end of the season.
We had disease problems in New York, and people wonder why the plant disappeared and why the industry disappeared. And we had-- downy mildew and powdery mildew were some real problems for the industry. We didn't have any disease-resistant varieties, and not a lot of fungicides were used.
And actually, two things happened. We had World War I came along, and the fungicides that were available were copper based. And because of the war, there were no copper-based fungicides available. And right after that, 1919, obviously what else happened? Prohibition. So the price of hops went down to from $1 a pound to $0.05 a pound just overnight. They really weren't worth anything. And considering the amount of effort that it takes to grow them and to harvest, there really wasn't a market. And people pulled them out.
The industry stayed active, fairly active, out in the Pacific Northwest. And if you looked at that map that we had before, you'll notice that some of the industry moved to Wisconsin and Michigan, then to California, and then Oregon and Washington. And Oregon was the largest producer for a while, and it's been overtaken by Washington for the last couple of decades. But so prohibition was the big end to it in the East, and especially in New York.
But this is what it looks like in Washington state, where they're grown commercially. And if you look, this is the Yakima Valley. And everything up here is what color? Brown. They don't get any rain. It's a high desert. So the rainfall is very lacking. So all the water that they have comes from the snow caps in the mountains, and then ends up in the Yakima River. And they do irrigate everything out there. So if you look at it from the air, you'll see that the central part of the valley is totally green, and everything else is just brown and barren.
They're grown on trellises that are 18 feet tall. And this is what's called a V trellis, where it looks like they're just floating in mid air. But the way this works is that the cables that are holding the hops up run parallel down the row, and then there's additional cables like a grid that go across the field this way to hold those other ones up. That's all held up so that we drop strings made of coconut husk called core, C-O-R-E, and that's what the hops actually grow up. And that's how they're supported.
So 18 feet tall. And by the first week of July, even here, that's how tall they need to be. Hops are a northern latitude plant, and they respond to day length change. So when's our longest day? In late June, June 21. So right after that, as the days begin to actually start getting a little bit shorter, the hop plant starts to form their flower buds, the female flower buds. They're called burrs. And then after that, they develop into the cones.
This is what a yard looks like up close though. And you can actually see the cables and the strings hanging down. And those strings are anchored in the ground. And we cut the whole plant and put up new strings every year. It is a very interesting crop, in that it's-- even out west, where they grow over 30,000 acres, there's only 50 families that grow hops. So it's very unique.
There are very large firms in Washington and Oregon, but really only about 50 families. And the reason I bring that up is that you can't just go to the farm store and buy hop growing equipment or processing equipment. The growers have developed their own things over the years, and this was typical to get up there to put the strings up. Now growers build their own little towers, and their workers will go down the field.
And actually, there's something on YouTube if you're interested. You can see the growers tying two strings at a time. They're riding on this platform, and out West where they do have so much acreage, they've got people that are trained. They actually can tie two strings at a time as they're going down the field. It's pretty interesting.
Now, we do have a new industry in New York now. As of about 10 years ago, we've had a few people starting to grow hops. And just in the last three or four years, things have changed a lot. We really only had two growers around 2001. And now we're up to over 100 growers.
If you look at the yellow dots, those are all people who have over an acre. The red dots are people who have less than an acre. And that was as of last spring. This map has changed entirely just since last year. And we've got about 250 acres in the state now. And giving us-- it's about like putting in a vineyard. $15,000 an acre or so an investment just to get the hops planted, build your trellis, and get the thing started. So that doesn't count equipment and tractors and land. That's just to get the hops started.
SPEAKER 7: [INAUDIBLE]
STEVE MILLER: Yeah, so they do call them hills the way they're planted. They aren't necessarily all raised beds or anything like that. But that hill is where you've planted a couple rhizomes or plants, and we've got some plants up here. And they're usually about three feet apart in the row.
SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE]
STEVE MILLER: So you put about 1,000 per acre. And the rows should be anywhere from 12 to 14 feet apart. We had a problem with people bringing in diseases into the state because we don't have-- a few years ago, we didn't have any propagation in the state at all. So typically growers buy rhizomes from Washington and Oregon. So that means somebody is going out in that hop yard, digging them up, cutting them, and selling them and shipping them all over the country. And there's really no good way of keeping those rhizomes clean. In other words, knowing whether they have viruses or downy mildew spores on them. Nematodes, verticillium wilt, powdery mildew, those can all be on those rhizomes. And since we're starting a new industry in the state, we want propagation happening in the state that is clean.
So a couple of years ago, we started this program where we can buy hop varieties from the National Clean Plant Network in Washington state. It's run by USDA. We buy the cuttings, and then we bring them here, grow stock plants in a greenhouse, and then the growers buy the plants from a couple of greenhouses in New York. So the same thing is done with grapes, apples, and cherries that come from that National Clean Plant lab. Mainly to prevent virus movement around the country.
So if you're starting putting this big investment in, you don't want to start with dirty stock coming in that is full of a lot of diseases. That doesn't mean that they won't ever get any diseases, but at least you'll be starting off clean. Hops are grown-- and I didn't say this earlier, but when we grow them commercially, we're just using female plants. We don't have any male plants in the yard at all. And in the old days, they did put males in there so they would get seed. And then those cones would actually weigh more, and they would get more money for them.
So pretty much commercial hop yards all over the country and in Europe as well, they don't use any male plants unless they're trying to do some plant breeding and coming up with new varieties. Now we do have wild plants all over the Northeast, and we do have some male plants that you might even find in a hedgerow. And so you could get some seedling production because of that. But as far as anything going on where they're being genetically modified, there's none of that happening so far like that with hops. There are breeding programs, but I don't know of any GMO type modifications happening in plant breeding.
There's been a lot of people who have grafted marijuana on to hop roots and vice versa. But there's really not a big benefit to doing that. So I want to just finish up because I don't want to cut into Randy's time, but this is brewery Ommegang over in Cooperstown, and they've been contributing a lot to the Cornell hop program with our research. And they have a-- we've planted a variety trial at the brewery.
And we've got about 30 varieties there. We have a variety trial at the Geneva Experiment Station, which has got some state funding. And then there's another one out at the-- if you're any grape growers are in here, we have a [INAUDIBLE] grape lab along Lake Erie. And that also has Cornell and state funding there. So we have three variety trials happening in New York, and there's one up in Vermont.
This was the beginning of the yard at Ommegang. It obviously looks different by now. The hops are about 12 feet tall as of today. We also have a good backing from the brewing industry in the state because they're very interested in having local hops. And this is Jim Kuhr, who is the head brewer at Matt's Brewing in Utica. They do buy some local hops, primarily to use in a fresh hop roast that they do. But they're also buying some dried hops, and very interested to see what's going to happen with the industry in New York.
Most brewers want them pelleted and packaged. So hops, after they're dried, are ground up in a hammer mill and pelleted. And we've got three pelleting companies in the state now, where as of two years ago, there weren't any. So now we've got some companies that are able to process and package the hops for the growers.
And this is what the harvesters look like. They're stationery harvesters made in Germany, and they don't make this size any more. We actually had to go to Germany and Poland to buy them used. And this one in particular was made in 1974. But they're still very useful. And what you do is you put the whole plant through there. It knocks all the hops off, and they come out looking like that.
They can be used fresh, or if not used right away-- Randy I'm sure uses some in his brewing. And then they have to be dried if you don't use them right away. So I did mention, we do go to Europe. I just went to Poland and bought four more harvesters to bring back to the state, and a whole bunch of other hop production equipment.
Because again, they're not being made in the US at this time. And these harvesters are really well made. And if they're taken care of, they'll last maybe another 50 years. So New York has a farm brewery law, and Randy is going to talk about that. And there's a picture of his brewery when he was just getting started. So I'm going to finish, and then I guess we're going to have time for questions at the end, right? That's my understanding. So I'll be here, and I'll let Randy get started then.
RANDY LACEY: Thanks, Steve. I'm Randy Lacey. As mentioned, I am alum of the class of '77. Also an alum of the class of '99. So I've been at Cornell for a while and got my second degree through the employee degree program. I work in facilities, so I'm an engineer. But we're not here to talk about engineering. We're here to talk about beer.
And this is-- so Steve described the history of hop growing in New York and what's happening now. And so I've been pretty closely connected to that. Several years-- I've been growing hops about 10 years. And several years ago, I went to a meeting of the Northeast Hop Alliance. And since there were only five of us at the meeting, we all became board members, and I've been a board member since. Some of you probably know what that's like.
So we're going to talk about brewing. And this is a business that we started-- my wife and I started. This is our family of two sons that are both also engineers, and our daughter-in-law, who's in the picture, is a Syracuse grad. And brewed with us for the first year and has moved to Baltimore, where she's now a brewer for Heavy Seas, if there's anyone from the Maryland area. So this is very much a family business, and pretty much only us operating the brewery at this point.
So I have a quiz. You didn't think you'd come back to Cornell without a quiz, right? Steve showed that New York peaked in about 1880 in hop production. And the total was 20 million pounds a year. So one of the questions I had-- and you saw the people picking with their long sleeves and their dresses and picking by hand. Remember, no tractors. Everything was done by horses.
So my question was, that amount of production would serve what today? Is that a big deal, or is it a little deal? Is it a fraction? So these are Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, are the three largest craft breweries in the country.
So my question is, that production today would serve what? Sam Adams is the biggest, Sierra Nevada is the next, and New Belgium is the third largest in the country. What do you think? Or all of them? All of them, the consensus.
Well, just like a Cornell professor, I didn't give you the right answer. [LAUGHTER] The answer is all of them times 5. Incredible. Incredible. So it was not a small industry for New York. It was a huge industry. And would be today. Today, New York-- that quantity today would be about 10% of the world production of hops.
So it would be a big deal. And so remember, that was-- with our climate-- the climate and the soil hasn't significantly changed. If anything, it's gotten warmer. So we could certainly be a big player in the hop industry.
So the farm brewery law. Steve mentioned it, and I want to talk a little bit more about it from the brewer's perspective. It went into effect in January of last year, 2013. And it's kind of a deal. It's one of those, give me this, and I'll give you that. So what the state said was, if you want to get a farm brewery license, you're going to agree to use 20% grain grown in New York and 20% hops grown in New York. And those amounts ratchet up in a few years. So that becomes a big deal.
And in return, if you do that, you have certain privileges. You can sell a glass by the pint in your brewery. And prior to that, it was only to do tastings. So that's a really big deal for me. I can suddenly become a bar at my brewery, rather than just a tasting room. You can open five satellites to do the same thing.
So conceivably I could open up four more places, one in the Adirondacks, one in Saratoga, and one in Ithaca. And I could brew there. I could serve beer there. I could also serve food as a restaurant and sell the product of any other New York farm brewery, winery, or distillery or cidery. So I can serve all those products at my place as well.
And probably the most important thing is you are designated as an agricultural operation. So that's a really big deal, because the building code sees breweries as industrial. So if [INAUDIBLE] wasn't zoned industrial, you couldn't put a brewery there. So this kind of trumps that and says, no, this is an agricultural operation. The whole thing. The brewery, the tasting room, whether you grow hops or not grow hops or grain, it doesn't matter. You are a farm brewery, and you can be in an agricultural area. So that was the biggest springboard for the farm wineries in New York. They no longer had to be in a city, in an industrial area. They could be out in the countryside.
So as of now, there are over 30 farm breweries, even though the law just went into effect a little over a year ago. So it's been a big deal. And one of the other things about regulatory impacts. Farm breweries, the whole deal is regulated by ag and markets, versus the county health department. So the county health department doesn't come look at me for food operations as they do restaurants. ag and markets does that.
So here's some numbers. 14, 353, $4.8 billion. And I'm sure you don't know what these are, so I'll tell you. 14 is the number of wineries in New York state prior to passage of the farm winery law in 1976. As I said, they were industrial. They were small. They were in big cities, so there weren't very many of them. They had to be in areas zoned industrial. 353, the number of wineries in New York today. And the economic impact, $4.8 billion from those wineries.
So this is what happened with wineries when the farm winery designation was established. And I show it because it's analogous to what's going to happen with breweries. So economically, I think this is really-- I'm biased. I think this is one of the best things New York State has done. And I'll tell you why.
The state didn't spend a penny. There's no state grants for breweries. I don't get anything. I don't get a tax break. I don't get grants. I don't get anything to start my brewery. What I get is permission to sell beer by the glass and do all these other things. So that's enough incentive for me to go out and buy New York grain and hops, even though I'm spending about twice as much on those as I am for other raw ingredients.
But look what it does. If beer is brewed-- for instance, in Coors, Colorado-- and shipped to New York, the businesses that benefit from that are retail stores, taverns, wholesalers, and then some professionals that are involved in that industry. That's it. If the beer is brewed in New York, then you have this whole list of equipment suppliers, trucking companies, service trades.
I need a guy to do refrigeration in my building. I need an electrician. I need people to build my parking lot. I'm paying utilities. I'm paying a lot more taxes. So all these people benefit. And then if the products, the ingredients, are grown in New York, now you have this whole agricultural industry that doesn't exist today, but will exist in the future, of farmers-- you don't use raw grain. You have to malt it.
So there's malt houses opening up very quickly in New York. Hop processors, Steve showed the pelletizer. Most farms don't want to pelletize, so they're looking for an intermediary to pelletize package, freeze dry, so forth. And then you've got farm supply companies. All of these things benefit when the beer is made in New York.
So just to give you a little perspective on this. What's it cost to make beer? And these are-- the low and the high is from depending on the quality of ingredients you use. The New York ingredients, as I said, cost more. But the grain is the biggest component. Hops are not a huge component, but it would depend on the beer. And of course, labor is always a big one.
So that doesn't mean a lot by itself. But what's important is when you compare that to what you can sell your beer for. So these are-- let's just say you're using really nice ingredients, and it costs you that to make your beer. And before I opened a brewery, I thought success in a brewery was brewing a lot of beer, putting it in kegs, and getting my taps in a lot of bars. I thought that was success.
Turns out that's not success. That is chasing a really, really small margin. Because when you sell your beer to bars, you sell it for that, and it costs you that for the ingredients. There's no money in it. And the reason these prices are here is because the big beer makers keep the prices down at bars. And so that's kind of your comparison. No one's going to say, well, I like this local beer. I'll pay twice as much for it. You won't as a consumer, and the bars definitely won't.
But look it. If I can sell my beer by the pint in my brewery, that's the margin I can make. Now I can use whatever ingredients I want. I can use high quality stuff. I can put local ingredients in the beer and pay more for them. Because the farm brewery law lets me sell my beer for this much a barrel. And that's why the law is a beautiful thing.
So let's look at it from an agricultural perspective. Let's say we're growing barley in New York. And we can do two things with it. We can sell it to a maltster and a brewery outside the state, or we can use it ourselves. Barley goes for about $150 a ton. Malt is about $1,000 a ton. And the same malt turned into beer is $5,000.
This is value added. You take your agricultural product, and you turn it into this. And if we can do all of that in the state, or do all that locally, that's a really, really positive thing. So I got some slides prepared by the National Brewers Association, just to show you the numbers in New York.
So one interesting thing is craft beer, this whole thing we talk about Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, all these breweries-- Matt's, [INAUDIBLE], all considered craft breweries. Still less than 8% of the national market. It's still tiny, tiny, tiny in terms of beer quantity. So there's a couple of things to it. One is, it's growing. So craft beer has grown from 4% to almost 8% in four years, five years. So that's a positive thing.
The beer market nationally is actually shrinking. It's dropping about 2% a year, while craft beer is growing more than 10% a year for the last several years. So what you're seeing is separation. These are different products. There is the domestic lagers, and then there's craft beer. And they're really different things. And over time, they're going to separate more and more. But in craft beer, we're still including Sam Adams and what I consider a lot of big breweries. And so what I'm doing is tiny, tiny, tiny. It's a whole separate industry by itself.
There are now 2,800 breweries in the US. The most since everyone ever started counting breweries. Breweries dropped below 100 in the '70s. Beer at that point reached kind of its minimum range. And now things have really, really changed.
Let's look at New York. So New York is kind of following the trend of the rest of the country. Craft beers are growing about the same rate as the rest of the country. Production is growing about the same rate. So New York is not significantly different in the last few years than other states have been. There are states that are actually growing faster than New York. The Carolinas have exploded. It's like they just discovered beer. Something amazing is happening in the Carolinas. It's incredible. And they're-- both at the big brewery scale and the small brewery scale, things are really happening.
So this is New York, 2008. Those were all of the breweries in the state. And now let's look at today. Wow. That's a big change. There's a few things to notice. One, of course, obviously there's a lot more than there used to be. But look at where they are. They're where people are. They go up the Hudson Valley. They go through-- you can pick out the cities. You can pick out Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse. And the Finger Lakes, which is really going to be a center.
And that's sort of-- I think that sort of has to do with the wineries bringing in tourism, and I think the wineries and the breweries are going to be very, very complementary. One thing I've seen this summer is I've had a lot of wineries that have cafes coming to me to look for beer because they want to be able to offer beer and wine, but they don't want to make beer. So under the farm brewery law, we can do that. So that's a direct impact that I've been seeing. And I think in five years, this will be another burst of breweries in that.
So in terms of numbers of breweries and quantities, New York is about I think fourth in the number of breweries. This looks like third, but I think it is fourth. But in terms of production, that I'm pretty sure is California. And then these two, one is Washington, one is Oregon. I don't know which is which. But we have-- so New York has a lot of breweries, which is amazing. But New York has a lot of people. So when you look at per capita, New York really drops. New York is about 30th in terms of number of people per brewery, the breweries per capita.
And this is really interesting. So if New York had the same amount of breweries and the same amount of craft beer production as Oregon and Washington, we would have 700 breweries. We have 150. So that kind of gives you a scale of wow, we could drink a lot more of this great craft beer. And there are some concerns.
So here's a few things. Right now the farm winery law is by Albany has been declared an incredible success. And I think it has been. But there's really a challenge to find the ingredients even at 20% for the breweries. Not all of the breweries that are farm breweries are trying that hard to find the ingredients. And I think if they all tried, it would deplete the small amount of New York barley and New York hops pretty quickly.
So that's an issue, just the raw materials. And then getting bars, stores, other people to put taps on, as breweries explode, there aren't places to put all of those. So that's another issue.
And then the regulation at this point is pretty confusing. Even people in the industry like me are not exactly sure how certain things about the farm brewery law are being interpreted, and how they're not being interpreted. So that's right now a challenge.
So I wanted to wish you well for your reunion weekend. And we will now have a tasting. It looks like we're going to have pretty darn small samples because of the number of people. But the good news is there are rack cards for Hopshire Brewery, which is only 8 miles out route 13, which is Dryden Road. And we're open all weekend, so I encourage people to come out. We open at 4 today, noon to 6:00 tomorrow. Tonight we have music, so it'll be quite busy. So I think-- do we want to do questions first and then beer, or--
SPEAKER 9: [INAUDIBLE]
RANDY LACEY: Yeah. Probably I'll do the questions first, I'm guessing.
SPEAKER 1: This has been a production of Cornell University, on the web at cornell.edu.
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New York is fermenting a renaissance. Once the leading producer of hops and beer in the United States, our state is beginning to see a vibrant revival in hops cultivation and the growth of microbreweries.
At a Cornell Reunion 2014 lecture at Mann Library, Steve Miller, hops specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, and Randy Lacey '77, MEng. '99, owner of Hopshire Farm and Brewery in Freeville, N.Y., present a look at the history and current developments in the production of hops and the emergence of farm breweries in the state.
This program was presented in conjunction with Mann Library's summer exhibit, "For a Quart of Ale Is a Dish Fit for a King: The Craft Beer Tradition and Its Revival in New York State."