"“Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.” — John Ciardi"
DECORAH-- With the homebrewing phenomenon officially on the rise, brewers in and around the Driftless region no longer have to look any further than their own backyard for homegrown, flavorful, local hops! Among the craft-beer crowd, "hoppy" beers in particular have gained favor in recent years, opening up endless possibilities for the crop. Hops contain acids, which give beer its bitterness, as well as oils that add flavor and aroma. Adding hops to beer can also inhibit the formation of certain bacteria that can spoil the batch. (Win win!) Also said to aid in relaxation, the hop plant's popularity seems to be growing leaps and bounds everywhere.
Enter Driftless Edge Farm, a beautiful and sprawling hop yard located on the outskirts of Decorah. Local entrepreneurs Brita Nelson, her husband Jason Skarin, and friend Jono Ruf have embarked on an epic journey of intertwining notions of sustainability with one of their other favorite lifebloods: beer. Really good beer.
Featured last year in the the region's own Inspire(d) Magazine, Nelson, Skarin, & Ruf have been at this labor-intensive process in one phase or another, since the couple re-located from their previous digs to the farm in 2010. For over four years, the trio has been on an epic journey to create a finished product that is both high in quality and yield, no easy task. While the group has moved from the time-intensive process of harvesting their 20-foot-tall hop trellises by hand, to using an incredibly giant yet efficient hop harvester, the crop still requires a great deal of time and love from planting to reaping, and finally distribution.
With not only homebrewing, but micro-breweries on the rise across the state and the nation, Driftless Edge seems to very possibly be getting an edge on a highly profitable current and future crop. Increasingly, beer connoisseurs are looking for richer, deeper, more distinct flavors, and hops are a key element to a beer's personality. What could be better than having the crop home brewed right here in Northeast Iowa? The farm is currently gearing up toward creating another robust and readily distributed harvest for 2015 and hopes to pair with a regional brewer in the near future, to feature their incredible Driftless hops. Interested in snagging some for yourself? Hop on over their website or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't forget to 'Like' Driftless Edge Farm on Facebook to stay in the loop and even get updates about a possible film showing in the gorgeous hop yard this summer!