- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

ATLAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Some people choose to have a tall, cold beer on a warm summer day, but people may not know about the process that goes into that drink making it into their hands.

The owners of Top Hops Farm, tucked into 55 acres in southeastern Genesee County, are opening up their operation to show beer lovers how one of the key ingredients in their drink comes to life, according to The Flint Journal ( http://bit.ly/1Gue5HO ).

A free open house has been scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Atlas Township farm, and will include self-guided tours of the 10-acre hops farm run by the father-son team of Mark and Sean Trowbridge.

“A lot of people don’t know about hops or what goes into their beer,” said Sean Trowbridge. “We just wanted to educate people about the process of making beer, see what’s going into the product.”

The operation began with a few plants, but it grew to more than five acres in spring 2013 and now includes a variety of hops, including Centennial, Chinook and Cascade varieties.

The farm yielded 6,300 pounds of hops in 2014. The perennial plants shoot up each year in the spring, with an 18-foot trellis made of Michigan white pine wood and steel wiring from a Flint business holding up Coir yarn made of coconut husks.

Demonstrations on home brewing are also set to take place. Chips, hot dogs, water and soft drinks will also be made available to participants during the free event.

Hops from the farm have been used in brews at several restaurants and breweries, including Redwood Brewing in Mundy Township, Fenton Winery and Brewery, Rivers Edge Brewing in Milford, Eternity Brewing in Howell, Sherwood Brewing in Shelby Township, Falling Down Beer Company and Kuhnhenn Brewing in Warren and 51 North Brewery in Lake Orion.

With the continuing growth of the craft beer industry nationwide, with sales of $14.3 billion in 2013, up 20 percent from the previous year, Trowbridge said, “We think it’s important to connect consumers with what’s going into the beer.”

He sees the boom in craft beer and hops growing continuing as other potential markets - such as China and India - open up, which would push farms in America to increase their output.

Trowbridge said the family’s farm may expand in the next year or two, with up to 10 more acres possible, but they want to create another good crop to establish themselves in the market.

“We had a really good year last year and we need to have another really good year this year,” he said. The installation of new freezers and a pellet line for hops in the coming days will be a big step in their progress.

“That’s going to put us at a totally self-sufficient hop farm,” Trowbridge said. “It’s another step towards good quality, shows our customers that we’re serious about this and we’re going to do it all on our farm.”

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Information from: The Flint Journal, http://www.mlive.com/flint

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