280 Poles Rising In Field Near Fly Creek
By JIM KEVLIN • for AllOTSEGO.com
FLY CREEK – For the latest evidence the hop revival is here to stay, take Route 28 north from Cooperstown, bear right on Goose Street in front of the Pail House Winery, bear right on Bailey, and then onto Stone House Road to where Dr. Mackie used to have an airstrip.
There, you will see dozens of poles stuck in the ground – soon, there will be 280 in all. A hop farm to-be – or soon-to-be.
On an orange tractor preparing the ground for the crop to come, you are likely to find proprietor Byron B. Thomas, and he’ll tell you of plans to plant hop bines – yes, bines, not vines – next May on strings reaching to the ground from trellises atop the poles.
He’s preparing four acres. But look across toward the far hill on the east end of the Mackie place, and you’ll see there’s room for much more.
Thomas’ farm is the second-largest in northern Otsego County, after Louis Hager’s 20-acre Hager Hops farm in Pierstown, and there’s a connection there. “He’s my cousin,” said Byron – his middle initial stands for “Busch” – who said Louis has been encouraging and helpful in this new undertaking.
Newspapers Choose Hagers
As Citizens Of Year For 2014
Yearbook Features 52 Top Stories, One From Each Week
Business Week Features Hager Hops
COOPERSTOWN – In this week’s edition, Business Week is featuring Hager Hops, the dirt-to-tap undertaking now being implemented by the Hager family, Anheuser-Busch heirs. Here’s how it starts:
“Strolling among rows of hops on a lush hillside in Cooperstown, N.Y., discussing soil quality and irrigation, Alicia and Louis Hager sound more like the farmers they’ve become than Busch beer royalty. The bines (that’s not a typo; these climbers are not vines) that produce the conelike buds that give beer its flavor and aroma “are very thirsty plants,” Louis says. “They need a constant supply of water.”
“The siblings, who are great-great-grandchildren of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch, have started one of the largest of dozens of hop farms cropping up across upstate New York. In May they moved into a cottage on the 1,000-acre property that Busch bought from a hop farmer in the late 1880s. Their goal for the new venture, Hager Hops, is to write a new chapter in the family’s beer saga, which looked to have ended with the sale of Anheuser-Busch to InBev, the world’s largest brewer, in 2008. “This is as exciting as it gets—continuing a family tradition instead of living off past successes,” Louis says. “We’re starting from the ground level—very humble beginnings—and we’re at the farm every day until the sun goes down.”