Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, Mich., started up just a couple of years ago, in 2011, quickly established itself as a rising star in Michigan's surging craft beer scene, and is expanding rapidly. Hop Head Farms, located in the village of Hickory Corners near Kalamazoo, in 2012 became one of the newest and biggest participants in the revival of Michigan's long-dormant hop-growing sector.
So it was not surprising late last summer when Greenbush and Hop Head Farms had a meeting of the minds that resulted in the brewery using fresh local hops in a seasonal harvest ale. While Greenbush, like many craft breweries, has built a customer base as a locally made product, growers such as Hop Head Farms are beginning to address the limited supply of local ingredients that brewers can use in making their beers.
The relationship that Greenbush and Hop Head Farms have developed is discussed in an article published in the Spring 2013 of Edible Michiana magazine. Excerpts follow the article follow.
- The Greenbush craft brewery has grown quickly since June 2011, when it opened its doors in a former auto repair shop on Sawyer's main street and brought new energy to the little city in Michigan's far southwest. Yet even as Greenbush's brewmasters experimented with a wide variety of beer styles, using Michigan-grown hops was not a top priority -- until last August, when they got a call from the folks at Hop Head Farms.
- The result was a harvest ale they called Demeter, after the Greek god of the harvest. It was an immediate hit at the Check, Please! Farm-to-Table Festival held Labor Day weekend in Baroda, Mich., and the beer sold out in just a few weeks.
- With more beer drinkers trading in the pale, mass-brewed light beers that have long dominated the American market for more flavorful "hoppy" beers such as India pale ales, brewers will welcome the greater freshness and supply security of locally produced hops -- with a "made in Michigan" flourish as a bonus.