Home brewing has enjoyed a resurgence over the past ten years or so. As a result, many beer lovers have found a new hobby with some cost savings benefit, too.
The roots of home brewing in New England go back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the late 1620s. Hops rhizomes (similar to potatoes) were on the list of items to be brought by ship from England to the Colony.
By the 1770s, hops growing had reached a level of commercial importance in New England and an export trade had started. Hops production was a serious crop for New England farmers and much care and attention was given to raising high-quality hops.
Growing your own hops to incorporate into brewing is fun. You can pick up rhizomes at home brewing supply stores in early spring. All you need is a sturdy structure to grow them on. The vines can be trained up trellises or the sides of a building. They make attractive plants too.
Today the home brewer enjoys an extensive variety of options for ingredients and recipes. Liquid yeasts, dry yeasts, grains, bittering hops, and malts are among the choices to produce British IPAs, Irish Stouts, German wheat beers, and American Amber Ales.
With a little bit of research and a trip to your local home brew store, you can make a cottage industry out of home brewing, from growing hops to raising a glass of your favorite ale with friends and family. Cheers! Prost! Slainte!
text and photos by Ann D. Travers