Seeing a hopyard for the first time while on vacation is what got the Browns started on the journey to having their own. They were in Traverse City, Michigan, when they saw their first hopyard, poles jutting up into the sky with dark green bines flowing down to the ground.
“We had never seen anything like it before,” Paula Brown said.
Now Merritt and Paula Brown will share their hopyard with others, maybe to inspire some future Ohio hop growers.
This is Barking Squirrel Farms’ first time participating in the seventh annual Hopyard Open House, organized by the Ohio Hop Growers Guild. The farm is one of 10 hopyards across the state opening their farms up to visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 25.
Anyone is welcome — craft or home brewers, potential growers, beer connoisseurs or people who are curious about Ohio grown hops.
The Browns started experimenting at home with about 10 hop varieties, trying to see what would grow well at their hilltop home in Columbiana County. Then they jumped in with both feet and constructed a hopyard in an old hay field; 300 plants went in last summer.
Although they’ll grow and produce cones every year, hop plants don’t mature and give a full harvest until they are 3 years old. Even so, Birdfish Brewing, in Columbiana, Ohio, used some of their first-year hops to make a fresh hop India pale ale.
Visitors to Barking Squirrel Farms will get to wander around the hopyard and get hands-on with the hops. Rubbing or crushing the hops reveals the lupulin, a yellow-ish substance that gives the hop its signature scent.
“That’s the fun part, all the aromas,” said Merritt Brown.
Open house locations
Arcadia Buckeye Hops
18745 County Road 109
10638 Taylor May Road
Barking Squirrel Farms
14265 Seigler Road
1580 North Altman Road
New Richmond, Ohio
CLEaf Farms, Ltd.
1211 Ferman Ave.
18901 Flederjohn Road
New Knoxville, Ohio
Little Miami Farms
3391 Cemetery Road
Ohio Valley Hops
8371 Ohio 48
Oak Hill Hops
3031 West Streetsboro Road
12790 Fralick Road
South Solon, Ohio
Zachrich Hop Yard
4850 Mechanicsburg-Sanford Road
For additional information on each location’s open house, visit their Facebook page or website or contact them via email.
(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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