Hop on in: Ohio hopyards open for visitors

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man stands in hopyard
Merritt Brown, owner of Barking Squirrel Farms, is opening up his hopyard to visitors July 25 as part of the Ohio Hop Growers Guild Open House. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

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

Arcadia, Ohio

arcadiabuckeyehops@gmail.com

Auburn Acres

10638 Taylor May Road

Auburn, Ohio

auburnacresohio@gmail.com

Barking Squirrel Farms

14265 Seigler Road

Lisbon, Ohio

merritt@barkingsquirrelfarms.com

Boondocks Hops

1580 North Altman Road

New Richmond, Ohio

peter@boondockshops.com

CLEaf Farms, Ltd.

1211 Ferman Ave.

Cleveland

cleaffarms216@gmail.com

Hirschfeld Hops

18901 Flederjohn Road

New Knoxville, Ohio

hirschfeldhops@gmail.com

Little Miami Farms

3391 Cemetery Road

Xenia, Ohio

jamie@littlemiamifarms.com

Ohio Valley Hops

8371 Ohio 48

Maineville, Ohio

ohiovalleyhops@gmail.com

Oak Hill Hops

3031 West Streetsboro Road

Richfield, Ohio

ashley@oakhillhops.com

OSHY Hops

12790 Fralick Road

South Solon, Ohio

derek@oshyhops.com

Zachrich Hop Yard

4850 Mechanicsburg-Sanford Road

Mechanicsburg, Ohio

zachrichhopyard@gmail.com

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 rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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