Agritourism: On-Farm Breweries and Local Ingredients

Winter Malting Barley

Winter Malting Barley

Interested in learning about Rutgers Cooperative Extension malting grains research trials and hop variety evaluations?

Join us for a twilight meeting and field tour on June 22, 2016 at the Rutgers Snyder Research & Extension Farm in Pittstown, NJ.

Local crops as feedstocks for the craft brewery and distilleries movement is sweeping the US. It is a hot topic in the agriculture industry; new and existing growers are paying attention to potential opportunities for these products. Farm brewery and distillery operations are emerging NJ enterprises; farmers are investigating implementation. Rutgers Cooperative Extension members are assisting potential grower/suppliers with their new ventures via research and education.

What characteristics must products and your operation share to be successful? Those are the questions that need to be assessed through business planning, market research, crop production studies, and with the brewing/distilling process. The first Rutgers twilight meeting to be held in the field will be on June 22, 2016 at the Rutgers Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown. The evening will showcase malting grains research trials and a hop yard with variety evaluations. Look for details on this event soon. A day-long Farm Brewery and Distillery workshop is being prepared for the NJ Ag Convention in February 2017. Rutgers has a history of working with brewing and distilling crops as far back as the 1940’s. More up-to-date information to come from Rutgers NJAES.

Please connect with the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station team for questions or advising on agronomic crops, grains, hops, pest management, marketing, Right-to-Farm, land use issues, farm management and budgeting:
Bill Bamka, Agricultural Agent (Central NJ Contact)
Steve Komar, Agricultural Agent (North NJ Contact)
Michelle Infante-Casella, Agricultural Agent (South NJ Contact)
Brian Schilling, Extension Specialist in Agriculture Policy, Farm Regulations
Kenesha Reynolds-Allie, Agricultural Agent/Economics
Daniel Kluchinski, Agricultural Agent/Production

We are hopeful the farm brewery and distillery industry will follow the path achieved by the NJ wine industry. In its infancy, the New Jersey Winery Industry struggled acquiring farm winery licensing laws permitting wine making, farm wine sales to patrons, and tastings on premises. Quality wine acceptance in the marketplace was a beginners’ hurdle. Today, there are many quality successes with NJ wineries and consumer respect for local products. Time, cooperation, and grower leadership developed this industry, where today demand outpaces supply. We hope and anticipate the same success can develop with on-farm breweries and distilleries.

We are just beginning to investigate the possibilities. Rutgers Agricultural Agents, William Bamka and Steve Komar are trialing malting grains to see if varieties produced in other parts of the country are adapted to NJ soils and climate. Hops varieties assessments are being conducted at the Rutgers Snyder Research & Extension Farm. Hops growing is challenging with our climate and pest pressure in comparison to Pacific Northwest states with lower incidence of disease and insect pests. NJ farmers have proven resilient and capable of overcoming hurdles in production with other challenging crops.

As with all growing start-up ventures and enterprises that become successful, it takes a team who shares common goals, motivation, and communications. A future meeting is being planned with agencies and groups providing agricultural services to discuss a team approach to working with this new industry. Lets work together to achieve success for farmers who are building businesses of breweries and distilleries using some locally grown NJ crops.

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