2020 is the fifth year for a partnership between Frederick, Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery and the University of Maryland’s agriculture school to experiment with growing hops in Maryland’s climate and soil — and harvest time has come.
The result is a new pale ale called Field Notes.
The beer is brewed using hops grown at the University of Maryland’s Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, Maryland.
The ongoing collaboration is to narrow down the types of hops crops that do the best in Maryland soil. The hops used for this year’s Field Notes are Lyon, Glacier and Southern Cross, which were chosen after three rounds of blind taste tests on hops varieties harvested by the university this year.
A total of 24 varieties of hops have been grown to try to identify the strains best suited for production in Maryland’s climate. The ultimate goal is to determine whether hops can be a sustainable and commercially viable crop alternative for Maryland farmers, and whether the hops produced could mirror the quality of the hops that are grown in the Pacific Northwest, where most brewers source their hops.
Flying Dog Brewery is a major financial contributor to the project, and provides the school with analysis of the hops crops.
“Over the past five years we have battled various obstacles, both environmental and manmade, and it is evident that we can produce hops in Maryland,” said Bryan Butler, extension agent with the university’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“The question that remains however is, can a consistent, high quality, profitable crop be produced? We look forward to continuing our work to determine the ultimate answer to that question.”
The next phase of research will be to narrow the focus to the six most promising strains of hops, as well as launching a new course of study at the University of Maryland focused on fermentation.
The Field Notes pale ale has 5.6% alcohol by volume. Flying Dog describes it as “fruity with citrus hops notes dominating both aroma and flavor.”
The 2020 Field Notes is available in four packs of 16-ounce cans at about four dozen grocers and liquor stores throughout Maryland, including a handful in the D.C. area, as well as at Flying Dog’s tasting rooms in Frederick.