Here at Stouts & Stilettos we truly believe in the idea of #DrinkLocal, but here’s a question for you – how ‘local’ is your beer if it’s made down the street, but the hops are being shipped in all the way from the West Coast? Luckily there are people in our area who are working to bring hop farming to Central PA. I met up with Adam Dellinger, owner of Sunny Brae Hops to learn more about what he is doing.
Adam has a masters degree in soil science. Did you even know that was a thing? Well, it is, and it’s pretty interesting! He wanted to use this background to grow something more interesting than vegetables. Grapes were one option, but being a fan of beer he decided to try out hops!
Right now, Adam is growing about a quarter of an acre of hops. Two-thirds of them are Cascade while the other third are Centennial. While I visited in a time that wasn’t optimal for harvesting, Adam pulled a few hops off the branches for me to check out. It was such a beautiful scent that stuck on my fingers. I just wanted to breathe in that incredible aroma! Adam also informed me that hops are sometimes used in aromatherapy because they are said to be calming. I believe it! I want to rub them all over my pillow when I go to sleep.
While he isn’t selling his product quite yet, Adam is getting his product into the hands of some local brewers to see what they can do with it. Recently The Brewery at Hershey used Sunny Brae Hops to wet hop a firkin of their Hip Hop Hooray which was tapped by Al’s of Hampden. Adam also gave me a taste of a homebrew he did with his friend Karl Larson. I have to say it was pretty freaking cool to sip on a fresh, aromatic brew while standing in the field where the hops were grown!
In the next year or two Adam is hoping to expand his hop field and add another acre. Just like grapevines, it takes a bit of time for the plants to be fully functioning. The roots have to grow and give the plants much needed nutrients. The first harvest only yielded about 10% of the plants capability. So with the addition of new plants the maturation of these, a few years from now Sunny Brae Hops will be able to produce a lot more.
Visiting Adam’s farm was very cool. I’m excited for what he is doing! This is a whole different side of the craft beer making process that many haven’t explored or even thought about, so it’s so interested to see what Adam is doing.
Want to try some of these fresh hops yourself? Sunny Brae Hops will be used in an upcoming Full Moon Firkin event at Troegs so keep an eye out for that!