Hops are female flowers from Humulus lupulus, commonly known as the hop plant. The flowers are used in brewing, and have been for nearly 1,000 years, to provide bitterness and aromatic qualities to beers and teas. The lupulin glands of the cones which contribute the bitterness and aroma also contain anti-microbial properties and have often been used in deodorants and soaps for that very reason. There are over 100 varieties of hops and more are being breed each year, each with its own unique characteristics, which can be manipulated by the environment in which they are grown.
For many years, the idea that hops could be grown in Florida had not been scientifically proven and prevented the industry from engaging in hop production, leaving only enthusiast and adventurous home brewers to give hop growing a try. It wasn’t until 2015 that the first scientific peer reviewed publication of hops production in Florida would be available to the public. The publication from an undergraduate student at the University of Florida, would provide growers with second hand experience at hop production, allowing them to explore alternative methods for its production. The University of Florida further provided information on the quality of the cones and discovered that Florida grown hops provide a uniqueness like no other! Hops in Florida have shown to produce remarkably distinct profiles found nowhere else in the world and have become sought after by home brewers, craft brewers and hop enthusiast from far and wide.
The first commercial beer using hops produced by the University of Florida was Redlight Redlight (Orlando) in their debut beer release Provision, a Farmhouse Ale fermented in oak barrels, cultured with Saison and wild yeast, and brewed with 100% Florida grown Columbus and Canadian Redvine hops. This beer would sell out within minutes of being offered, setting a precedent for future Florida hopped beers. Several more beers with Florida grown hops would follow, finally culminating into First Magnitude’s Apopka Hop Pale Ale, the first beer labeled with Fresh From Florida Hops.
New growers would enter the market following the Apopka Hop Pale Ale beer release, supporting a new desire created by Floridians for locally grown hops.