Extension Launches New Research-Based Initiative for UMD Grown Hops

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

November 17, 2016 Graham Binder

Mt Airy, MD. -- University of Maryland Extension had a very proud moment on Wednesday night as its first ever hop trials were featured in a limited edition rye pale ale, brewed by Milkhouse Brewery, Maryland's first farm brewery located on the outskirts of Frederick. In the words of Tom Barse, Milkhouse Brewery owner, "this was the best first-year hop yard I've ever seen." From 4-6 pm, local brewers, hop producers, state legislators, University of Maryland employees and other special invitees mingled on the Milkhouse property in celebration of Extension's successful effort, one that will lay the groundwork for future research-based work with hops. 

This is a distinct point of pride for Extension, the College of AGNR and the University as a whole as it demonstrates the quality of UMD grown products and positions UMD as a major resource for the brewing industry in Maryland. Aside from the excitement surrounding the first-ever beer produced with UMD grown hops, the event was predominantly a celebration of Bryan Butler, UME Extension Agent, and his highly reviewed hop trials at the Western Maryland Research & Education Center for the future benefit of MD hop producers and brewers.

In 2017, Butler plans to yield 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 envisions a highly collaborative relationship with MD brewers to support their production needs. The educational component is the underlying mission of this project and is at the core of the University's land-grant mission to serve as a top-tier resource for state residents. 

This opportunity afforded through Extension also has profound implications for farm brewers. With the rapid 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 locally grown hops. This is a huge win-win for farmers looking for additional avenues of sustainability and for tourists who want a tighter glimpse into farm life. 

Research conducted by UME faculty is supported by the Maryland Ag. Experiment Station (MAES) Research and Education Center, which funds and fosters College of AGNR research at all levels. MAES research is conducted both on campus, within the academic units and off-campus in four Research and Education Centers consisting of eight facilities that represent diverse physiographic and land resource regions.