Brewbound Features: San Diego’s Nopalito Farm & Hopyard

Jordan Brownwood sees a bright future in San Diego’s young but nascent hop growing industry.

With more than 100 breweries already operational in town, Brownwood, who earlier this year co-founded Nopalito Farm & Hopyard near Escondido, Calif., believes that he and other small suppliers have a clear market, with some local breweries relying more and more on local suppliers.

In speaking with Brewbound, Brownwood says he’s seen the number of local hop growers nearly double in the last two years — a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of the ingredient needed for hop-heavy West Coast styles, but enough, he hopes, to supply some local craft outfits. He said he believes local farmers will harvest as much as 20 acres in 2016.

“There’s no reason to have to buy hops from a thousand miles away,” Brownwood said. “We definitely can supply a good amount of smaller breweries down here.”

Supporting local brewers with locally-grown hops is something Brownwood believes will be a factor in the future success of these businesses. In his mind, working with a local hop supplier offers a greater reward than simple local loyalty — it enables brewers to create products with fresher raw ingredients and a noticeable point of difference.

Kick starting a hop growing industry in Southern California hasn’t come without its challenges, however. The state is in the midst of a multi-year drought, a problem Brownwood expects to worsen over time. And shorter summer days than what’s enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest means lower crop yields.

Nevertheless, Brownwood isn’t surprised by how the the city’s craft beer industry, one of the nation’s most mature, has taken to the budding hops growing business.

Editor’s Note: The video above is the first in a series of short documentaries that readers can expect to see more of in 2016.

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