GENEVA, N.Y. — For many folks, nothing says summer like an ice cold beer. New York’s booming craft beer industry is getting a big boost, thanks to a $300,000 investment from the state. It could help take New York beers to the next level.
Craft beer is a multi-billion dollar industry in New York. Chris Hansen is proud to be a part of it. His Climbing Bines Craft Ale Company opened in 2013 in Penn Yan.
“The whole movement, it's fantastic,” said Hansen. “It's a fun, fun industry to be in because people are usually in a good mood when they want to have a beer.”
All of Climbing Bines beers begin in a large hops field that’s part of the property, which overlooks Seneca Lake. It’s a lot of work, tending to the various hop varieties which are grown there.
Hops farmers and local brewers who grow them are now getting a boost from Cornell University researchers.
“It was farmers who really drove this,” said Jan Nyrop, director of Cornell Agritech in Geneva.
The research facility and farm is launching a hops breeding program, working to develop new varieties and improving existing ones so they grow better in New York, disease-free and, most important, make great tasting beer.
“So that farmers can know, well if I need to produce something now, what is the best variety for me to use under New York conditions,” said Nyrop.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but researchers want to develop a signature New York hops variety. The Cornell hops program will also include a library of hops varieties grown in New York. That is important because the state’s farm brewing law requires 60% of a brewery’s hops and other ingredients be grown in-state.
“For the craft brewing industry to be able to say, what do you are drinking was made right here in New York,” he said. “That's important.”
“I think is a fantastic idea that Cornell is on board,” said Hanson. “I think that is a limitation with the farm brewery licenses and the hops that we can access because a lot of those proprietary hops that people like and those juicy hazy IPA’s, we can't get to grow here."
Getting that access is key for a New York industry that’s at 400-plus craft breweries, and growing.
“We’re just happy to be a part of it,” said Hanson.