WHY MICHIGAN HOPS?
Southwest Michigan is an ideal region to raise hops for many of the same reasons why fruit has been produced here since the 1860s. It comes down to rich soils and the Lake Effect. At Hop Head Farms, we have taken great care when deciding where to plant. 80% of our fields are located within 10 miles or less of the Lake Michigan shoreline and for good reason.
In this historic fruit belt, the glacial soils are predominately sandy loams where hops thrive. Because our soils are sandy, they drain well and promote rapid, deep root development, yet they contain the right amount of clay content to make them very fertile and hold moisture for plants to thrive. Quality is born from the soil.
The Lake Effect can make for some unpredictable winters, but also makes for wonderful growing conditions, especially where we are in Michigan’s southwest. Our growing season is as much as two weeks longer than other regions located to our north. Our proximity to the lake moderate’s temperature and tends to decrease the threat of a late frost in the spring that can set plants back. During mid-summer, the cold water keeps the temperatures a bit cooler which help keep the plants out of heat stress. Steady breezes of the lake also help keep plants dry making it more difficult for diseases to develop. The Lake Effect also delays the first frost in the fall, so our plants have more time to build and store reserves for the next season. Our product at Hop Head Farms is world-renowned for quality, and these climatic conditions play a big role in that.
Our flavors are defined and unique for many of our varieties. Compared to other growing regions, we are most alike with the Hallertau in Bavaria and other growing regions in Europe because we share a Humid Continental climate classification. The Hallertau is famous for its noble flavors among its traditional varieties. Our prominent floral and spice notes for our Zuper Saazer, for example, affirm the link of climate and variety quality. With this knowledge in hand, we are committed to raising the varieties that thrive wonderful Southwest Michigan terroir.
Michigan is second only to California in its diversity of agriculture and is fourth largest hop producing state. Hops thrive in Michigan’s fertile soil, ample water , and abundant sunshine. While the names may be same, and their characteristics similar and familiar, Michigan hops express the unique terroir of the region. Michigan Cascade and Centennial, both true to the profile of other growing regions, exhibiting juicier citrus top-notes. Michigan Chinook checks all the boxes of spice, pine, resinous, with bright aromas of juicy pineapple unique to the region. Hops from Michigan allow the brewer to taste the place where they were grown and bring in unique flavors from classic varieties.