Las Cruces, NM – NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences horticultural researcher Kevin Lombard is conducting a multi-year variety trial of the plant that provides the aroma and bitter flavor of beer.
He began the study in 2008 when he learned of trends in the brewing industry that were affecting the region's five microbreweries. During the first year of the variety trial in 2009, Lombard raised six varieties of hops that he obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Lombard says he wanted to be ahead of the curve in researching whether or not hops could become an alternative crop for small acreage farms in our region.
Lombard- "Really this is a trial that is geared more to a small scale producer interested in diversifying their operation and also the boutique craft brewer interested in obtaining locally available hops that are unique and provide a value to the added product."
Lombard has found that hops will grow in the Four Corners region in a drip irrigated environment.
The second stage of the trial involves assessing the taste of products brewed with the locally grown hops. During the winter of 2009, Three Rivers Brewery produced 150 gallons of specialty beer using the harvested hops cones and featured it on its specialty batch menu, called Cascade Ale.
The next phase of the trials included working with native wild hops. Data from the plants will be gathered after the 2011 season and harvest.