For the last five years, Flying Dog Brewery and the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources have worked hand-in-hand on the future of beer-centric agriculture in the state they both call home and now the latest iteration of their hard work is set to be released.
Field Notes, a crisp 5.6 percent pale ale with fruity and citrus hop notes, both on the nose and flavor, is making its return in 2020 and is once again brewed using hops grown at UMD’s Western Maryland Research and Education Center. Proudly sporting the state flag on the label, Field Notes’ hop profile features three variations this year – Lyon, Glacier and Southern Cross – which were chosen after three rounds of blind sensory analysis on the hops harvested at the college over the course of the year. Field Notes gives Maryland’s largest independent craft brewery the opportunity to discover what hops are commercially viable in the region, like a trial run almost, and it’s set to hit distributors throughout the state this week, available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.
“There’s no better way to evaluate hops than putting them in a beer, which is exactly why experimental projects like Field Notes are vital to our work with the University of Maryland,” said James Maravetz, VP of Marketing at Flying Dog, in a statement. “There are no pilot or test brews for this beer, it is a one-time shot to see what notes shine through.”
The partnership between the 30-year-old brewery and the university is rooted in the goal of gathering research and laying the groundwork for a commercially viable hop-producing industry in Maryland, one that mirrors the success of hop-growing ventures in the Pacific Northwest, which is among the world’s most recognized spots. 24 hop varietals have been studied in the hopes of identifying the strains best suited for production in the Maryland climate, while determining potential challenges for local growers.
“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 at the UMD College of AGNR, in a statement. “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.”
As for the next phase, the team will narrow their focus to the six most promising strains of hops, work on genotyping a hop that may be native to Maryland, and launch a new course of study at the University of Maryland focused on fermentation. Continued research could lead to a more cost-effective way of producing hops for Flying Dog’s beer – and, perhaps, lead to many other breweries, ones with clout, investigating local hop-harvesting options. It could also potentially create a new agricultural sector for the state.