Episode #013 – Hop on board with Fresh Florida Hops
In this episode, we sit down with Kyle from Central Florida Hops and Richard from Florida Hops LLC. These two are very experienced and educational in what it takes to grow hops in Florida. With their experience, they are helping Florida beer drinkers to experience fresh wet hop beers from local brewers or in their own homebrew batches. If you want to learn about growing hops in Florida or how it can help your brewery, this episode is one you don’t want to miss.
Below we have provided some show notes to follow along with if you would like. Besides hosting our podcast here on the website, we also have it streaming on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, and Tune In.
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1:20 – Take time to learn who our guests are and what they do in the farming industry of Florida hops. Kyle and Richard have tons of valuable experience.
6:05 – Learn how the partnership between Central Florida Hops (CFH) and Florida Hops LLC. was started. One thing that Richard specializes in is working as a consultant for local hop farms. His goal is to make these farms have a successful harvest.
8:13 – With about a quarter acre CFH is still getting quite a decent yield.
9:19 – In the past, there has been a mentality that growing hops in Florida is not possible. We get into what the ideal conditions are and why Florida does not match those conditions. Richard and Kyle show that it can be done, however, we are still in a research phase. There are many things they have to test and trial to make it possible.
13:26 – Why deal with these difficulties? Because it is unique. This is a chance to provide Florida with fresh wet hops which is a missing element in Florida beers.
Want to grow Florida hops?
16:27 – We start learning about the growth characteristics of growing hops and how harvest works.
20:02 – While there are many unique challenges growing hops here, the result is also very unique. Each local hop farm will be able to provide a unique flavor and character to the beer. This offers a great opportunity for breweries to feature a local farm as the producer of the hops in the beer. In turn, by later using a different farm, people can get a different beer flavor profile within the same beer recipe.
22:35 – Through research, they have found that certain hops just don’t grow here. For instance, Zeus seemed great at first but did not meet expectations. You do get a beautiful bine but the yield is not there. Of the top ones so far, Cascade has been the best.
26:07 – Richard goes into how even though the yields are low, Florida gets multiple harvests a year and because of this can match outside areas with just one big harvest. A lot of the work involved is in figuring out how to get multiple harvests yields with each type of hop.
There is a lot of science involved
30:51 – Richard goes into detail about breeding and how to create a new hop plant. He does vast research in this area along with the University of Florida.
33:07 – If you want to grow hops at home for your home brewer, it is possible and a good way to make your homebrew special.
34:45 – Successful breeding of hops is still in the beginning stages. Richard talks about the current state of having a hop specific to Florida.
36:59 – Proudly Florida is at the bottom of the list among hop growing states. Yet, they were never on the list before so we are on the map now. In fact, we are at the point of being competitive with farms that have better conditions than Florida.
39:05 – Yes, there are some challenges to jumping on the hop growing train. However, this is something that anyone can do with the right tools and mentality. Having help from someone like Richard though makes a big impact in helping to be successful right off the bat.
45:00 – This is a huge market for homebrewers. So many people have never used a fresh hop or even actually been to a hop farm. By visiting on “You Pick” days, you can not only get hops but help pick them off the bine.
47:10 – Kyle brings out a good point that depending on when you visit, you may get to meet a local brewer and learn about what they are using the hops for.
Getting these hops in local breweries
47:53 – There has been a lot of good response from brewers but still some challenges. Many are set up for pelletizing only so using a wet hop or the whole cone is a challenge. There is a bit of education involved in getting brewers to use these hops, yet some are excited about the new challenge.
52:40 – That awkward pause was CFH founder Matt trying to walk by incognito.
53:03 – There is a night and day difference between using whole cones over pelletized hops. Many brewers including Wops Hops have switched their brewing method because of how fresh the local hops are.
56:35 – While many brewers are hesitant still with Florida hops, the future is looking brighter and brighter. With more farmers, more consistency, and continually getting better yields, this can only get better. From experience, “Wet Hop” beers usually fly off the shelf. People will stand in line to get just one or two bottles of local hop beers.
Thanks for listening
We had a great time learning about our local hop production. We can’t wait to keep this conversation going in our next episode with Fox Valley Farm and Hopyard. In the meantime, however, feel free to check out other great episodes like our interview with Cueni Brewing or Tidal Brewing.
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