Grow Your Own: NOFA Offers Organic Hop Growing Workshop

Making beer is awesome, but making beer with home-grown ingredients is even better. With so many breweries popping up in Connecticut, the task of gathering local resources to make beer can be daunting. Thankfully, it looks like farmers are getting more involved with helping brewers get the hops and barley that they need here in Connecticut. CT NOFA, which is the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, is a grassroots organization that advocates for organic food, farming, and land care across the state. Despite the name, NOFA does a lot of work throughout various Connecticut communities to educate all people, not just farmers. On December 11, they will be having a mixer at Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford. The event will include an organic hop growing workshop, led by John Suscovich of Camps Road Farm in Kent.

I started growing my own hops two years ago, and it has been incredibly fortuitous, not to mention much easier than I imagined. I plan to increase my plants next year, and would like to look into more organic gardening methods, so I’m especially looking forward for a chance to pick some brains (and drink some beer!). The mixer will also discuss NOFA’s new Technical Assistance program, which, for a farming and gardening n00b such as myself, sounds like a great thing.

Camps Road Farm grows all the hops for Kent Falls Brewing, which broke ground over the summer. Out of all the new breweries opening up in Connecticut, I think I am most excited for Kent Falls. In addition to using local hops, they will also use local malts, which is something I have not seen before. Kent Falls has also embraced sustainability practices, through solar hot water heating, reusing spent grain, and proper wastewater handling- all of which you can read about here.

All the details on the mixer are below. I am planning on attending, so be sure to join me if you’re interested. Click the flyer to register.

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Two Roads Brewing Company, Stratford, CT

Last week I took a tour of one of Connecticut’s newest breweries, Two Roads Brewing in Stratford, CT. As usual, I am happy to see Connecticut jumping into craft beer, and even more pleased to see a new brewery that’s located close to where I grew up (Bridgeport).

Let’s start with the appearance. Two Roads Brewery is located inside of a 100-year old factory building. The building itself is beautiful from the outside, with massive windows that show people outside all the glorious brewing going on inside. The inside has been renovated, scraping away all the old brick and wood of the past. However, the old materials are not gone; the bar inside the tasting room is constructed from recovered wood from the building’s interior. It’s inviting- if I still lived in that area, I would definitely stop in more frequently just to enjoy a pint.

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I think Two Roads has shown a lot of ambition. I think it’s great that they work with other breweries to do contract brewing- they are really fulfilling a lot of potential with the space. I also thought it was ambitious to start off with multiple beers and making the most of their equipment. A lot of new breweries start small, whether it be a small space or making one brew at a time. But Two Roads already has 4 flagship beers, as well as seasonals and plans for more (I can’t wait to try the oak-aged Russian Imperial Stout!).They are all solid beers too! I especially like that they aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel here and try to do something no one else has done. They are taking classic styles and making them delicious and drinkable. So far my favorite is their winter seasonal, a biere de garde, which is a nice, cold-weather style to see alongside a sea of winter warmers.

It’s nice to have something else for Connecticut to be proud of, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they come out with! If you are in the area, you can pretty much stop in for a tasting or to fill a growler (or growlito- the 32 oz. version) any time they are open, usually until 8 PM. There are scheduled tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 3 PM. There is also usually a food truck parked outside on the weekends! For more info, check out their website.