UMD, Flying Dog Brewery Join Forces on a Hops-Growing Research Project

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The craft beer and “buy local” movements sort of go hand in hand, right? A new partnership between the University of Maryland and Flying Dog Brewery aims to bridge those two crazes, right down to the very hops used to make some of our favorite beers.

Out at the university’s Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, Md., in Washington County, researchers are set to start growing two dozen varieties of hops to see what will grow best in our East Coast climate. Flying Dog will take part by funding hop-processing and harvesting equipment for the research trials and “provide resources to analyze and evaluate” the test crops, according to a release.

“Virtually all” hops come from Idaho, Washington and Oregon, according to Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine. A key goal of the new Flying Dog-UMD partnership is to give Maryland farmers a chance to produce hops en masse for the state’s thriving brew scene. Doing so could allow Maryland’s beer industry to build off of its own ingredients, rather than sourcing them from places like the Pacific Northwest.

There’s an almost immediate payout for Flying Dog with the first batch being planted. The brewery will produce a variety pack called the East Coast Hop Project in spring 2018 highlighting three regional hop farms and their specific varieties. They’ve already signed on two in-state growers: Black Locust Hops, located “in the rolling hills of Northern Baltimore County,” and Rohrersville-based Pleasant Valley Hops.

A broader goal of the collab is to develop a handy mid-Atlantic-focused hop-grower’s almanac of sorts. The annual guide would cover best management practices for growing and producing hops in the region.

In a statement, University of Maryland extension agent Bryan Butler complimented Flying Dog as “a business leader in the state that has the foresight to help an entire industry grow using research-based information.”

The Frederick-based beer maker is on a roll. In December, the company closed on a deal with the City of Frederick to buy a $2.55 million, 31-acre parcel of land for its new planned brewery. When it opens – the projected timing is mid-2020 — the brewery expects to be able to produce 700,000 barrels of beer per year, seven times more than it produces now.

In unrelated beer news, Flying Dog last week renounced its membership with the Brewers Association, a national trade group, over its new marketing code for members that prohibits “sexually explicit, lewd or demeaning” branding material. CEO Jim Caruso told Brewbound the new policy is “a thinly veiled side door to censorship.” Some of his company’s most popular beverages include the Raging Bitch Belgian IPA, the Doggie Style Pale Ale and the Pearl Necklace Chesapeake Stout.

Ethan McLeod
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  1. While this is nice, why are our taxes and the college’s money going to benefit private enterprise? It happens all the time. But, out here in CO, we have almost more than any state with all kinds of flavors and such. None of our entrepreneurial breweries asked the gov’t to do their research for them. I know that the UM has better things to research with grant monies.

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