Idaho hops production surpasses Oregon for first time

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HAILEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Idaho has passed Oregon in production of hops, one of the main ingredients in beer.

This is credited in part to craft brewers like Paul Holle, the head brewer at Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum and Hailey.

“The growers down in Parma have noticed the craft beer tick up,” Holle said. “They have breweries that want to buy the hops from Idaho farms, so they’re planning more acres; they’re hiring more staff; they’re reinvesting in their facilities.”

Idaho hops growers added 1,500 acres in 2017, according to a Capital Press report, and according to Holle what makes it marketable is uniqueness.

He said there are varieties he can get just about anywhere, but farms in Parma come out with different and uniquely Idaho types. When a new type comes out, Holle said they’ll try it in an IPA series that uses only one variety of hops to isolate the flavor. This helps them decide how to use it in multi-variety brews later.

“We’re about to keg off a batch using experimental number four,” he said.

Holle said Sawtooth isn’t the only brewery responsible for the growth.

“We’re actually one of the smaller breweries” compared to others in Idaho, he said. But “the collective whole of the amount of breweries is having an impact.”

And growers in Parma are willing to work with the breweries to get them the uniqueness they want.

Holle said it’s a relationship that works both ways: Breweries get to be creative, and growers don’t have to ship their crop very far.

“They’re giving us a great opportunity to work with them, especially because we’re so close,” he said.

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