No Farms, No Beer
I grew up in farm country. I had uncles and great uncles who were farmers, and I worked on farms over summer vacations. So when I look at the beer supply chain, I want to go the whole way back to the dirt and meet the people who grow the grains, the hops, the fruits and the herbs that go into the beer. The best brewer can’t do a thing without good materials.
It’s not easy, farming, even when it’s mechanized, and it’s always a gamble. Nature can ruin your crop at any point from planting to harvest—drown it, dry it, blight it, blow it down, smash it with hail or send pests to eat it, leaving you with something barely worth disking back into the soil. Then you suck it up, have a beer and do it again next year.
Some brewers connect to that and meet their farmers, their producers; some brewers, a small number, are the farmers. Does it make the malt sweeter, the hops more aromatic? Not really, but it usually leads to a more suitable crop for the brewers and better pay for the farmers. Farms swing to the seasons, just like beers. There’s different work for every month, always aimed at the next harvest, at your next beer. In the end, beer comes out of the ground. –Lew Bryson