Hop growers look to expand in Nebraska

Grand Island, Neb. (KSNB) - All across the state, brewers are creating new beers to quench the craft beer trend.

The annual Top Hop event brings brewers and growers together to see what they can create. But they need more people in Nebraska to grow hops to meet the local demand. (KSNB)

“The brewers in Nebraska are amazing. They're passionate. They're creative, and they're knowledgeable,” Nebraska Hop Growers Association President Jacob Robison said.

With more demand for hoppy drinks the NHGA hosted the annual Top Hop event where brewers can meet with growers and the public can enjoy their creations. They want to help people like the owners of First Street Brewing Co. in Hastings to expand their collection.

“For me it's really about getting to know the local hop growers and getting to use their products,” Owner Nathan Hoeft said. “Getting to try them out. This is a great opportunity for us to make test batches and see what flavor profiles we are able to get out of their hops.”

First Street gets roughly 30-40% of their hops from Nebraska. The rest they get out of state.

Hops grow similarly to weeds so they can grow in a wide range of climates. One grower is out of southeast Nebraska and said they have growers all the way to Chadron. But they need more farmers to consider adding hops to their crops to meet the demand.

“Ultimately we want enough acres in Nebraska to support the brewing, the craft beer industry in Nebraska so that all of Nebraska can say local beer, local hops, local ingredients,” Robison said.

Flavor profiles of hops can change based on where they are grown so different growers working with brewers can result in unique beer flavors. Breweries around the state are finding great support from their communities.

“We've had amazing support from our community. I don't know that I would have started a brewery anywhere else other than Hastings just because it's an amazing community of people who are happy to support anything local,” Hoeft said.

The brewers who attended Top Hop were also judged on their best use of Nebraska hops as well as the crowd favorite beer for the year.