Farmington farmers experimenting with growing hops

Posted at: 07/12/2013 6:38 PM
By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There's a chance the ingredient that gives beer its flavor could be grown right here in New Mexico.

Local brewers and farmers have come together to explore the potential for the hop industry to grow in New Mexico at the first annual hop symposium. 

"The local brewers around here, which there's at least six to eight, some of them are interested in fresh hops and would be willing to conduct a field variety for them," said Kevin Lombard, Assistant Professor of Horticulture at NMSU.

New Mexico State University has had a research facility in the four corners since the sixties. Recently they've started to grow hops to see how they'd grow in the New Mexico environment."

Through their research, they've found hops can grow in New Mexico to feed the growing desire to buy local products.

"Buy local, and reconnecting with farmers and reconnecting with their food is becoming more popular with some folks. So why not beer and why not beverages also?" said Lombard. 

And even though there's potential for the hops industry to grow, there are still challenges that small farms will have to overcome.

"It would be difficult for a small farm to afford the equipment that we would need to get our hops from them on  a year round basis because they need to be packaged in a certain way and stored in a certain way," said David Thibodeau of Ska Brewing Company. 

Even with some drawbacks, researchers hope their findings will be useful for someone getting into the business.

Participants in the symposium will tour NMSU’s test site Saturday.