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Botanical Garden hops to The Bronx Brewery

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When it comes to making beer, the New York Botanical Garden hops to it.

It’s harvesting its own hops to help the newly-opened Bronx Brewery, a small Mott Haven company brew local beer.

Several local community gardeners, including the Brook Park Community Garden, Taqwa Community Farm, and the Holy Family Parish, were tapped to join in on the initiative.

They’ve set aside space to plant Cascade hop, a green-colored plant used to add bitter flavor to ales.

“We want to entice farmers to grow hops,” said Damian Brown, the company’s head brewer.

He hopes the Urban Hop Project will renew interest in making New York the dominant market for hop distribution once again.

Back in the 1880s, New York grew about 90% of the country’s hops, according to Brown.

The project began in late spring with hop expert Steve Miller of the Cornell Coopreative Extension giving workshops to participating Bronx gardeners. Like the NYBG, he too was eager to join the effort in reinvigorating an industry.

“I said ‘yes’ right away,” said Miller, reporting that gardeners are equally thrilled to work with such an “unusual crop”.

About 125 Cascade hop plants have been grown throughout the Bronx so far. Once they bloom, they’ll be mixed in to form an Urban Hop beer to be released later this year, said Brown.

“I can’t wait to try the end product!” said Miller.

But Brown hopes to grow enough to do a batch of beer, a goal he said could come with some challenges since first-year hops are traditionally weak.

Proceeds from the sale of the specially grown beer will go to towards Bronx Green-Up program, an NYBG initiative that helps community gardeners become better farmers.

The project is all in the name of helping the Bronx, according to Brown.

“Anything we do that helps us in the community will help us in the long run,” he said.

The Bronx Brewery opened its doors in the Bronx in 2011. Brown and business partner Chris Gallant, makers of the Bronx Pale Ale, are looking to expand their array of products with Bronx Rye Ale, set to launch later this summer.

To find out more about the Bronx Brewery - and where to host one, go to www.thebronxbrewery.com.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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