Co-op of Brewers, Hop Farmers Help Develop Yearly Harvest Product

Capitalizing on the harvest season can help a brewery deliver fresh hopped ales that are locally produced. That can benefit it not just financially because of the “one-off” nature of the products, but it also ties the brewery to its local community of fellow breweries and hop farmers.

Case in point is Glendale, Wisconsin’s Sprecher Brewing and its Wisconsin Pale Lager (WiPL). Using 600 pounds of locally-grown Cascade, the brewery kegs 120 barrels of the WiPL for release, now in its sixth year.

Sprecher works with members of the Wisconsin Hop Exchange, a hop co-op that Sprecher belongs to along with three other breweries and three growers.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the co-op,” said Sprecher president Jeff Hamilton. “The co-op insures a supply of local hops.”

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It’s the first of four “Whole Cone Hop Series” beers it will release this season. The brewery located in the Milwaukee area started with one beer, then added another and then a third due to some unique processing, Hamilton explained.

“We added two last year for a total of five,” he said. “This year there will be four. In addition to the Wisconsin hops we were fortunate enough to obtain some local and hard to get West Coast fresh hops this harvest season allowing us to create a series of one-off beers with distinctive flavor profiles.”

All of the Washington State hybrid hops are proprietary to the growers and only available from the state. Hamilton said he and Brewmaster Craig Burge usually arrange for the Washington hops at the Craft Brewers Conference in the spring, this past year in Philadelphia.

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