In January 2011, about 30 current and perspective hop growers gathered in a barn in Paonia, Colorado. In the center of Colorado Hop country, that cold winter day, the development of the Colorado Hop Growers Association began.
Last weekend, Oskar Blues Brewery and the OB Hops and Heifers Farm hosted the first annual Colorado Hop Growers Association meeting. The inaugural event hosted 70 participants spanning five states. This group represented hop farmers managing ½ acre to over 1700 acres of production. The Association was designed to educate regional hop growers regarding specific cultural practices to improve plant health and yields through sustainable production techniques. The Association also aims to bridge the gap between local craft breweries and the local hop grower.
Presenters included some of the most experienced minds in hop production.
Dr. Ron Godin (Agronomist) from Colorado State University Extension discussed, “Hops 202: Hop Yard Work from Spring Thaw to Fall Bedtime.”
Ali Hamm (Hop Specialist) from Summit Plant labs, Fort Collins, Colorado presented, “Hops Quality, Good Enough for Brewers.”
Dr. Fran Stonaker (Specialty Crops Coordinator), Assistant Professor Colorado State University, lectured on “Integrative Pest Management for Hops.”
The key note speaker and special guest was Mr. Bruce Wolf (Owner/Grower), Willamette Valley Hops, St. Paul Oregon. He led a discussion regarding “Hop Farming in the Willamette Valley for a combined 7 generations.”
The Tasty Weasel Tap Room at Oskar Blues Brewery was the lecture venue. The group later enjoyed brewery tours and a catered lunch from Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids Restaurant. For the afternoon session, the group traveled 6 miles to the new Oskar Blues Sustainable Hops and Heifers Farm. Here, the Association enjoyed craft beers from across Colorado while engaging in a question and answer session with Geoffrey Hess (OB farmer) within the OB Hops and Heifers hopyard and cattle barn.
To end a successful meeting, Chef Jason Rogers and his crew at Oskar Blues Home Made Liquid and Solids catered a dinner spread under the hop vines on the back patio of the restaurant. Colorado brews were served by participating breweries: Oskar Blues, Odell, New Belgium, Tommy Knocker, Palisade Brewing, Asher & Funkwerks.
The Colorado Hop Growers Association is grateful to all who attended and helped make this inaugural event such a success. Hop farming in Colorado is alive and well. Ali Hamm of Summit Plant Labs was quoted “It was a beautiful site to see the Colorado hop growers all under the Oskar Blues roof!” Learn more at www.coloradohopgrowers.com