CARLISLE — Like peanut butter and jelly, a hop yard and brewery are the perfect match, and for the residents of Carlisle, such a relationship has blossomed to create a special beer with local tastes.
Sunny Brae Hops — a local hops farm on the outskirts of the borough —recently teamed with Molly Pitcher Brewing Company, 10 E. South St., to create a series of beer batches that “highlight the craft of our local, passionate brewers working with unique, fresh local ingredients grown right down the road,” according to Adam Dellinger, owner of Sunny Brae Hops.
“When Molly Pitcher opened up, I started coming in and getting to know the guys here and sharing my story about what I’m doing, and being also from Carlisle and also caring about good ingredients, good beer, and supporting the local community,” Dellinger said.
Dellinger originally started out with “a quarter” of an acre when he first ventured into the hop-farming business after leaving his post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in hopes of finding a more challenging, yet rewarding career path.
In Pennsylvania, being a hop farmer is all of that and then some.
Without much local competition — the majority of hop farms are located in the Pacific Northwest, and overseas, in Germany and England — Dellinger has been able to expand his business. Now, he holds more than 2,000 hop plants on his two acres of land, with all of the plants bred to be female, which yield the hops necessary for brewing beer.
Zachary Ziegler, Molly Pitcher’s brewmaster, said the reason the beer he crafted using Dellinger’s hops is special is because of the short time between them being picked and then brewed.
“Most of the time the hops are dried so that they can be stored longer, so what happens when you make a fresh hop or harvest ale is the hops are used in as short a time frame as possible, which changes the character of them a little bit,” Ziegler said.
The first batch was made using Chinook hops on Saturday, Sept. 5, and sold out in about five hours.
Nugget hops were used for the second batch of the local harvest ale, and that sold out over the course of “two weekend evenings,” according to Dellinger.
The third batch, using Comet hops was served over the past weekend.
“We want to be known as a grassroots brewery, so when we heard there was a hop yard in Carlisle, we knew right away we wanted to do business with them and support the local economy and local agriculture,” Ziegler said. “The more local stuff we can do the better. Being able to get ingredients locally to make a couple special beers is a really cool thing for us.”