WIMAUMA — It’s harvest day for a new crop of cascade hops.
Hops, the key ingredient in making beer primarily comes from the Pacific Northwest.
But University of Florida scientists have been working for five years to successfully grow them here at UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma.
“This was the most challenging crop because we didn’t know anything about growing this crop and our climate is not suitable to growing this crop," said UF horticulturist Shinsuke Agehara.
Ironically one challenge in Florida is the amount of sunshine.
The days just aren’t long enough for hops to grow.
So this team added LED lights. And it’s working.
“It is very exciting to see the harvest. To see the final product," said UF student Mariel Dallirdo.
The UF team is giving away their hops to local breweries to try them out.
Swan Brewing in Lakeland just debuted their creation called GPA, for Gator Pale Ale.
“Just this beer itself is going to show other breweries maybe in central Florida that UF has a viable product that they are developing, to try their product," said Swan Brewing co-owner Christian Hood.
One advantage to growing hops in Florida is they can be harvested twice a year as opposed to just once in the Pacific Northwest.
“Knowing that they are looking to create a new agricultural industry for the Florida growers to replace possibly citrus or at least supplement citrus in the future. It’s very exciting especially being in the business I’m in," said Hood.
The Tampa Bay Area is a hot spot for craft breweries. And they now have the chance to use homegrown hops.