Fresh-picked, earthy and floral “wet” hops are typically an early fall treat for craft beer fans.
A new brewery opening this month in Cicero hopes to make it a year-round experience. Hot House Brewing at Barone Gardens will grow its own hops in a greenhouse, with a potential for three or four harvests a year.
“We’re probably the first brewery in New York to have wet-hopped beer (ready) in March,” said Paul Richer, a partner in the brewery along with John and Merry Beth Barone, who run the garden center.
At Hot House Brewing, John Barone, the hop grower, and Richer, the brewer, are attempting what they admit is a bit of an experiment. Few breweries have tried greenhouse-grown hops.
"We were researching it and I kept hearing, ‘You know, there’s no book on how to do this,’ " Barone said.
“We’re writing the book on it, in a way,” Richer added.
The greenhouse hops are not just a gimmick at Hot House. The brewery will make a variety of beer styles, from pale ales to porters, some using the wet hops and most using a combination of the greenhouse hops and varieties bought on the market.
That will allow Richer to make New England-style IPAs and other beers that depend on specific hop varieties.
“We’ll probably end up making beers using 90-plus percent our own hops,” Barone said. “But we won’t be limited in styles.”