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The hunt for hops: Utah brewers forage for a wild ingredient

Beer » Utah brewers forage for a wild ingredient.



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"When you put the hops in at the end, you capture their essence," Beamer explained. "It’s shockingly different than a normal brew. You pick up grassy and vegetative notes from all the green material. It’s really unique."

At a glance

Making beer with Utah-grown hops

Radius » A golden ale made with ingredients produced within a 150-mile radius of Salt Lake City. Available after Labor Day at Desert Edge Brewery, 625 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City; 801-521-8917.

Hop Bandit » A light amber ale with a bit of sweetness. Available mid-Septemeber at Wasatch Brew Pub, 250 Main St., Park City; 435-649-0900

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Trying this at home » Utah home brewers are taking a cue from their professional counterparts, and planting hops in their backyards.

"Every year we get more and more people who want to grow them," said Dave Watson, an assistant manager at Salt Lake City’s The Beer Nut.

The beer-making supply store sells cuttings — mostly from commercial growers in Washington state — around the first of April. Watson said American hop varieties such as Cascade and Centennial grow best in the Utah climate.

"The first year they will grow, but until they get established you won’t have a lot of yield," Watson said. "But by year two or three, they are really producing."

A member of the Hemp family, hops have vigorous rhizomes and can grow in just about any soil, said Baker, from Red Butte. However, they thrive when there’s ample moisture and lots of sunshine. In these ideal conditions, the bines can grow anywhere from 2 feet a week to 12 inches in a single day. Hops like to climb trellis’ and fences, so they are a good water-wise plant for those wanting to create a natural screen in their yard.

The only thing to watch for are the hop bandits who come out in the fall.

kathys@sltrib.com

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Twitter: @kathystephenson



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