There’s nothing nicer than a refreshing glass of cool beer after a hard day’s hiking or biking around Iowa’s beautiful Driftless area. Home-brewing is now something of a phenomenon and enthusiasts in and around the Driftless region of Iowa are now delighted to discover that they can buy home-grown, flavourful and certified organic hops right in their own backyard. If you're a beer-enthusiast the Driftless Edge Farm may be the only excuse you need to take a trip to the Driftless region!
Driftless Edge Farm is a stunning, sprawling hop yard on the outskirts of Decorah. It was set up four years ago by Jason Skarin and his wife Brita Nelson, and a friend, Jono Ruf who sought to intertwine sustainability with one of their favourite things: beer.
The enterprise was featured recently in the region’s own Inspired Magazine. Skarin, Nelson and Ruf have worked very hard to get the venture up and running and to create a finished product that is both of the highest quality and yield. Originally, the group harvested their 20 foot tall hop trellises by hand which was an incredibly time and labour-intensive process but they now use a giant and much more efficient hop harvester to do the job. Despite the assistance of such technology, the crop still requires much time and love from planting and reaping and eventually to distribution.
So what makes hops so important? Well, according to the team at Driftless Edge Farm, the hops contain acids and that’s what gives the beer its bitterness. They also have oils to add flavour and aroma. Hops can also inhibit the formation of bacteria that could otherwise ruin the batch. Hops also have another commercial use in herbal medicine as an aid to relaxation.
Home-brewing and micro-breweries are flourishing across the state and indeed right across the nation, so Driftless Edge seems on the brink of a highly profitable future. Beer connoisseurs are seeking deeper, richer more distinct flavours and hops are essential if this is to be achieved. The farm is working very hard at the moment to create a robust and readily distributed harvest for 2014 and is hoping to team up with a large regional brewer in the near future.
If you’d like to visit the farm and take a look at the processes involved, or to buy some of their produce for your own use, check out the website or send them an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.