Craft beer trend gives new life to hops grown in B.C.

Local brewers in B.C. generally use imported hops to make craft beer but one hops expert aims to change that by teaching local farmers the benefits of growing the crop.

Hops were a popular crop in B.C. during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s

Hops grow as vines that can reach a height of 10 metres. (Getty Images/Aurora Open)

Breweries in B.C. generally use imported hops to make craft beer these days, but one agricultural expert is hopping to turn back the clock and trigger a revival amongst farmers and have them start growing the once popular crop.

During the 1950s, 60s, and 70s B.C. hops used to play a big role in the beer industry, according to Tom Baumann, an agriculture professor at the University of Fraser Valley.

But local farmers turned away from the crop about 30 years ago because of disease, pests, and a growing international supply, he says.

Baumann hopes to convince farmers the growing popularity of craft beer, and an emphasis on local organic agriculture, is giving the B.C. hops industry new life.

"It's worthwhile growing and this is what we're going to look at during that there a market for it? The answer is yes."

Baumann is giving a seminar for farmers interested in capitalizing on this trend at the Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford on Saturday.

Hoppin' hops

Beer is made using four ingredients: water, grains, yeast and hops, he notes.

"The hop itself is one of the few ingredients that, according to the German purity law for beer, makes the beer."

Hops are used to give beer its bitter, tangy flavour, which can vary widely depending on how they are dried and where they were grown, according to Baumann.

They also help preserve the beer with their anti-microbial properties.

And here's a little known fact: hops are classified under the Cannabaceae family, which includes the cannabis plant.

To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: How to grow hops in B.C.


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