Hopped Up on NorCal Hops
At its high point in the 1920s, there were over 11,000 acres of hops in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Contra Costa’s Pleasanton was home to the largest hop farm in world, with over 1,900 acres. Today, sadly, there are only 130 acres, in the entire state of California!
The NorCal Hop Growers Alliance hopes to increase those hop-growing numbers. Formed to help small-scale hop farmers, many members of the non-profit have begun cultivating hops from wild vines leftover from the hop yards of yore. “I have 100 vines that I propagated from a heritage hop I found growing along the Russian River near a vineyard,” says Paul Hawley, co-founder of the Alliance and owner of Fogbelt Brewing. They hope to provide breweries and homebrewers not only with freshly dried hops, but to revitalize the use of wet hops in local brewing as well. www.norcalhopgrowersalliance.org