Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beer News: Michigan Brewers Guild Receives Grant for Hops

Story via MLive and the Kalamazoo Gazette

LANSING — The Michigan Brewers Guild will receive $74,000 in federal dollars to help promote Michigan-grown hops.

Guild president Scott Graham said he learned Thursday his organization, which represents more than 60 breweries around the state, would get the funding. The MBG is one of 21 projects selected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture to share $1.4 million in grants to create, enhance or expand agriculture development ventures across the state.

"It could grow into something that's cool, distinctive and regional," Graham said during a phone interview Friday.

Graham said the timing of the grant is perfect, as Michigan hop growers are beginning to emerge. Hop prices skyrocketed a couple years ago causing more farmers to explore growing the crop, Graham said. But farmers and brewers rarely communicated with each other, Graham said.

"What we're trying to do is bring the two groups together, so they can understand what each others needs are," he said.

The state's biggest hop player, Two Peninsula Hops, started in 2007 by a group of four Traverse City area farmers who grow hops on the Old Mission and Leelanau peninsulas, harvested its first substantial crop in late August/early September.

Two Peninsula Hops also has the ability to pelletize hops, which will make the Michigan-made hops easier for the state's brewers to use as they will be able to be stored for long periods of time. Fresh hops need to be used soon after harvesting.

Graham said the MBG plans to foster more communication between hop growers and brewers at two upcoming industry events — the Michigan Restaurant Association's annual trade show in Novi Oct. 19-20 and the guild's annual winter conference in Kalamazoo in January.

Graham said he also hopes to speak with restaurant and bar owners around the state about supporting local hop growers and brewers in the future.

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