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Local brewers boost hops production

PENN YAN — The popularity of microbreweries is leading to a growing demand for locally grown hops, a key ingredient in beer.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County has recruited hops specialist Steve Miller to lead a statewide effort to promote local hops production. This weekend, Climbing Bines Hop Farm in the Finger Lakes town of Penn Yan held a tour for growers, the first in a series planned at various locations by the Northeast Hop Alliance.

Hops are 20-foot climbing plants that produce cone-shaped flowers that shape a beer’s character. Most hops are grown in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, but local brewers are making the case for increasing New York hop production.

Miller is working with researchers to identify the best varieties and production methods for hops in the Northeast.