Tippecanoe County farm brings in first harvest of hops

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – In Indiana, it’s not just corn and soybeans anymore. A local farm is now growing an essential ingredient to many adults’ favorite beverage.

“It’s just been months of just working and planning, and trying to get ready for this, and it’s so interesting because none of us have ever done it before,” said head grower James Kennedy.

Kennedy has been helping out at HopKnoXious Farms during the summer. The farm, started by Koh Knox, his wife Courtney, and cousin Kyle Taylor, came together and made the decision to grow hops earlier this year.

“I probably have drank more beer since we started growing hops,” said Koh Knox.

The trio wanted to try something different and saw a need in the market for the product.

“[There are] 80 plus breweries in Indiana right now, craft breweries, and really only about half a dozen hop farmers that we know of,” said Kyle Taylor. “So it seemed like a no-brainer.”

In talking with those hop farmers, as well as local home and commercial brewers, the farmers knew they had to experiment during their first year of growing.

“This year has more or less been a big test as far as the one acre that we planted,” said Knox. “We’ve grown them in many different ways to see which is the best way.”

Kennedy, whose experience in gardening and developing interest in craft beer, says hops are nothing new to Indiana. He says growing specific varietals to help produce flavorful beer is what’s unique to the region now.

“The climate is right, the soil is right, you know everything is right here. We just need to get the right breeds because those wild breeds might not have the right flavor,” said Kennedy.

Family and friends helped to pick and make sure no pests infected the hops during the day long event. Many of the hops will go to local home brewers. But a good portion will go to People’s Brewing Company, who will brew a wet hop beer this fall.

“I can not wait for Chris at People’s to bring out his brew in another month and a half after it’s done fermenting and everything,” said Kennedy. “Bring that brew out and let us all have some tastes of the fruits of our labor.”

“If we can change how Indiana looks, then why not go for it?” said Knox.

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