How a Fresno farmer is growing hops for beer in the Valley heat

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno farmer is looking to harvest his own version of an important beer-making product, even if the climate is a bit on the warm side.

Many of you are familiar with the end product of brewing - the beer.

But a key beer-making ingredient - hops - are now being grown in the Valley.

96% of the hops in the US are grown in cooler climates - Washington, Oregon, Idaho.

But a Fresno farmer has been able to grow several varieties of hops in our summer heat.

The vines reach high because the sky's the limit for the hops market.

The flowers are sought by breweries for their bright yellow oil called lupulin.

"That's where you get the aroma and the bitterness and the flavor of the beer," says Grant Parnagian.

Once hops bake to a crisp in the sun, they're ready for harvest.

"...if you get them in your hands and you kind of move them around and they break apart," he says.

Parnagian always heard the Valley was too hot to grow hops. Hold my beer, he said.

"It's always good to accomplish something people say you can't and so yeah it's very satisfying."

Once the hops are taken off the trellis, processing goes quickly.

"We'll run it through the harvesting machine where it takes off the whole cone," he said.

The hops are separated and held in cold storage in bins and then dehydrated.

"We'll let them sit and cool and then we'll start the pelletizing process."

The pellets are then left to cool.

It takes just 24 hours to go from harvesting to packaging Parnagian's Golden State Hops.

"A lot of the feeback I've had from brewers that have used the products last year are very happy with them. I think it gives them a different profile of what they're used to."

Several local breweries have used the locally-grown hops. Grant has sampled every variety.

"What was amazing to me is, before I took my first sip, how the aroma and the smell of it tasted just like out here in the ranches."

Parnagian figures beermakers around the state would love to feature California-grown hops and he's got a good jump on the competition.

Last year Parnagian's hop crop was distributed to breweries to make sure it was a good product. It was.

Now he's able to deliver more hops to beermakers who need it.
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