Have you tried a beer with PA grown hops?

In the spring of 2008, in the midst of the most severe hop crisis in my 20 year brewing career, John Mosovsky of Vista Farms contacted me with an interesting proposition: How would we like to work together to bring Pennsylvania hops into the Victory brewing lineup? Well, considering that we have been active members in PASA (PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture) for several years and have been promoting local ingredients in our restaurant for equally long, I was naturally intrigued.

Last year, following the first year “baby crop”, we brewed our inaugural Vista Farms Harvest Ale (VFHA), made with 100% Lehigh Valley grown Cascade hops. Because it was the “baby crop”, the hopyard did not produce enough to make a very hoppy beer, but the hop flavor and aroma was quite unique and pleasant.

This year, with more than triple the amount of Cascade hops from Vista Farms, we have made the same quantity (25 bbls) of VFHA as last year. We wanted even more aroma, so we used his entire crop of Nugget hops to dry hop (the process whereby fresh hops are added into the aging tanks) the VFHA for three weeks before kegging up the local nectar. The result is hoppy goodness, with citrusy, floral aroma and flavor fading to a dry finish.

Vista Farms has a small hopyard, with fewer than 1/3 acre of hops. Such a small hopyard does not warrant a picking machine so all of the hops are hand-picked. Hand picking is extremely laborious and increases the cost of hops by 10 fold. With sustainability in mind, we have priced this ale significantly higher than most of our other offerings. We hope you will enjoy this extremely rare, made-with-Pennsylvania hops beer for its unique flavor and local roots.

Vista Farms was established in Orefield, PA six years ago by John Mosovsky and Molly Mitke. At the time, John got caught up in the dot com bubble burst and after 25 years of corporate life, called it quits. He’s never looked back! Molly maintains full time employment as a registered, occupational health nurse – someone has to “bring home the bacon (health insurance)”. Their current goal is to get Molly working on the farm full time. Not that she doesn’t already do more than her share, but tending to the crops (hops, grapes, garlic, herbs) and feeding 22 mouths (llamas, dogs, cats, John and Molly), provides more than enough work for two!

Brewmaster Ron

NOTE:

Our support of local agriculture extends well beyond the fruits of Mother Nature to the fluid that nurtures them. Pure water resources allow us to make great beer and we long supported the protection of vital watershed ecology. Come and see what happens when a watershed is compromised on Sunday Oct 4th when we watch The Unforeseen with us here at Victory. Visit Victory events for more info.

5 Responses to Have you tried a beer with PA grown hops?

  1. Ethan September 24, 2009 at 7:45 PM #

    Great story. Do you happen to know where a person could go to find hop plant seeds to grow in their own plot of land? I have not seen any at my local brew and grow, and am curious if another source exists.

  2. Team Victory September 24, 2009 at 8:13 PM #

    Normally, hops are started as rhizomes. They are usually available in March and April and one supplier is http://www.freshops.com. Good luck!
    Cheers,
    Ron Barchet, Brewmaster/CEO

  3. Richard September 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM #

    Ron, so when does it go on tap at the brewpub? Can you purchase a growler of it when it is available?

  4. Mark B September 25, 2009 at 1:37 PM #

    The one reason hops are started from a root is because the male hop plant will pollenate the female reducing the yeild and altering the flavors. Female hop plants are what you want. Males are strickly removed from all of Germany. In my area I see what I suspect as wild male plants or Japanese hops. A hardy hop plant will come up year after year from the same roots system. I wonder what signifcant cost means. 7 bucks .5l ? I will be sure to try some regardless. Nugget puts out a wonderful aroma, and it sounds like they did not hold back.

    Mark B
    Downingtown.

  5. Peter October 1, 2009 at 1:07 AM #

    I’ll pay for it for sure. As long as it’s a regular yield that brings good results and is worth it, we’re game.

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American Ingenuity.

The Victory Brewing Story

The story of Victory Brewing Company starts on a school bus in 1973 when fifth-graders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski stepped aboard, on their way to a new school. The two became fast friends and remained so, even as they grew up and went to college on opposite coasts. Just months out of college, Bill’s appreciation of good beer and access to his father’s home brewing equipment inspired him to explore the hobby. That same year (1985), Bill gave Ron a home brewing kit as a Christmas gift. With that, both Bill and Ron developed their love of the craft…
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