THE CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY has grown like wildfire, and a UF/IFAS team is researching if Florida growers could benefit by filling a need in this niche industry: growing beer-quality hops. UF horticulturist Brian Pearson recently won third place in the Early Career Award for scientists at the American Society of Horticultural Sciences (ASHS) for his research in growing hops in the Sunshine State.
It has long been thought that it was too hot and humid to grow hops in Florida, yet Florida experienced a higher number of craft brewery startups than any other state in the U.S. in 2015. All of those breweries need hops, the vining plants that a affect a beer’s aroma and flavor.
The big breweries need hops, too, so smaller microbreweries don’t always have an easy time securing the right kind of hops. If Florida farmers could grow hops, they could offer a reliable, local supply to the large number of small breweries across the state. Buying local is a desirable option for the breweries, too. It reduces costs and fits in with the consumer trend of choosing items that use locally sourced ingredients. It’s a trend that is having a great impact on both agriculture and the food and beverage industry.
Pearson started growing hops to supply his own home-brewing hobby, and his successes have grown from there. Currently, there are three UF/IFAS researchers on the hops research team. Some growers are already giving hops a try in their fields, and it could be just a matter of time before they explode across Florida.
column by MICHAEL MARTIN
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law O ce in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida and has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, e Crestfallen Rose. To learn more, visit martinpa.com.