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!
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.