7. Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling, San Antonio, TX
This combination brewery and distillery, originating from the Lone Star state, is committed to using local ingredients to make quality products by hand. Based in San Antonio, Ranger Creek says brewing local is what being a craft brewery is all about.
“Using local ingredients helps give our products a sense of identity and brings out creativity,” says Mark McDavid, one of the founders of Ranger Creek. “It also gives a sense of community since we’re supporting local agriculture.”
Traditional brewing ingredients such as hops and barley don’t grow so well in Texas, so Ranger Creek takes advantage of what does. They use local strawberries from Poteet to make their Strawberry Milk Stout, which requires 500 pounds of the fruit. They’ve crafted beers with local honey and Texas mesquite wood. Their latest beer, released in August, uses local figs and tart red cherries.
McDavid says it’s not a requirement that every brew has a local ingredient, but it’s a guiding principle when they’re deciding on new beers.
Currently, the brewery is aging beer in barrels with local blackberries. They’ve experimented with peaches, and McDavid hopes to do more with the fruit. They also want to use more of the high-quality woods Texas provides for their smoked beers and whiskeys, too.
Learn more about Ranger Creek’s farm-to-pint beers at drinkrangercreek.com.
8. High Hops Brewery, Windsor, CO
High Hops Brewery, out of Windsor, Colorado, knows the importance of agriculture, because they started out as growers.
“My extended family owns three Garden Centers in Northern Colorado and we all grow much of our own plants,” says Zach Weakland of High Hops. “My parents started to home brew and in 2007, there was a nationwide hop shortage. We decided to start a little two-acre hop farm to supplement our home brewed beer. Two years later, we were producing more hops than we could use.” High Hops Brewery was born in the fall of 2012.
Along with using their locally grown hops to make beer, the brewery also gets the community involved every year with its annual hop-picking party. “We have more than 50 varieties of hops and with only two acres of production, it’s hard to justify getting a machine to do the work,” says Weakland. “The party helps us out tremendously! We’ve had more than 100 people out every year for the past three years to pick our entire field.”
Weakland adds that they plan to expand their hop field next year and are diversifying with other crops as well, including Lemon Verbena, raspberries and strawberries.
Find out more about High Hops Brewery and their hop picking party at highhopsbrewery.com.
9. Rogue Ales, Newport, OR
Rogue Ales, located in Newport, Oregon, shows off the region’s diverse, local ingredients with their eclectic “Rogue Farm” series of beers.
Getting more than just ingredient from local farmers, the brewery actually leases land from Oregon’s growers to produce the raw materials for their collection of five beers. It includes ingredients like malting barley, jalapenos, hops, Dream rye, Dream pumpkins, hazelnuts and more.
The pumpkins are the fundamental ingredient of their latest addition to the series, Pumpkin Patch Ale. The brew uses fresh pumpkins grown in a patch that borders Rogue’s 42-acre hop yard. The gourds are picked, loaded, driven immediately 77 miles to the brewery and pitched into the brew kettle to create a fresh batch of the ale.
The Pumpkin Patch Ale will be available for delightful sipping sometime in October, since the brewery only uses fresh pumpkins – no canned pumpkin, purees or concentrates. “It’s worth the wait,” says Rogue Brewmaster John Maier.
Learn more about the “Rogue Farm” series and where it’s served at rogue.com.
10. Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, VA
Can hops grown in Virginia work? The crew at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton has always thought so. They decided to farm their own. “Having the hop fields surrounding both our breweries when they’re in heavy growing season for three months every year really gets people involved with what they’re drinking.” says Taylor Smack, co-owner of Blue Mountain. “Our annual community hop stringing and hop harvest parties add to that. The hops were planted in the spring of 2007 as we built the brewery, so the two grew up together.”
Its locally grown hops are the star of their brews, but Blue Mountain expands their local commitment to food as well, serving a menu at the brewery with ingredients from more than a dozen very local famers.
The brewery grows the Pacific Northwest “Cascade” variety and Pacific Northwest “Centennial” variety of hops in their two fields.
Learn more about Blue Mountain Brewery and their hop harvest parties at bluemountainbrewery.com.