Philadelphia Destroys Craft Brewery’s Urban Hop Crop

, Philadelphia Destroys Craft Brewery’s Urban Hop Crop

(Courtesy Philadelphia Brewing)

Philadelphia Brewing is a heritage craft brewery that operates the oldest and largest brewing facility located in the Kensington neighborhood of the city. And every year this fiercely independent brewery sets up a miniature hop farm in the neighborhood to grow hops which are eventually used for one of the brewery’s most popular annual beer releases, a fresh-hop ale called Harvest from the Hood.

, Philadelphia Destroys Craft Brewery’s Urban Hop CropGiven that the Pacific Northwest is where most hops are grown in the US, Fresh Hop Ales are a stylistic rarity in the East. So news that the City of Philadelphia had destroyed the urban hop crop was met with outrage.

Philadelphia Brewing’s urban hop farm, which was located on 18 by 70 vacant lot, was a symbol of the brewery, allowing it to craft its annual Fresh Hop Ale using just-picked hops, also referred to as “wet hops” in the brewing biz.

“We’ve been using this garden in partnership with the New Kensington [Community Development Corporation] for 10 years,” said Nancy Barton, who co-owns the brewery with husband Bill Barton. “They let us use the lot. We grow our hops that we use for Harvest from the Hood.”

As Paste reports, “the hops were only a few weeks away from harvest when a Community Life Improvement Programs (CLIP) crew tasked with maintaining vacant lots in the city were for some reason directed to cut everything in the lot down, destroying the hop crop in the process. Making matters more confusing is the fact that the garden is clearly labeled, with a sign explaining the hop growing process.”

To make matters worse, the Bartons had been in communication with the city after receiving a notice that CLIP intended to clear the lot of what they presumed were weeds and were assured that it was a mistake.

“I called. I talked to the inspector. I explained what was going on, Nancy Barton told KYW Radio. He said, ‘Oh, I see. I was out there. [Your case is] closed. You’re good. No fine.’”

, Philadelphia Destroys Craft Brewery’s Urban Hop Crop

Nancy & Bill Barton: Philadelphia Brewing

But evidently not, because last week CLIP destroyed the brewery’s hop crop which the Bartons estimate will cost them tens of thousands of dollars as a result of not being able to release one of their most popular beers this fall.

The city did issue the following statement acknowledging the error…

Regrettably, due to miscommunication and staff error, the hops were removed as they were initially marked as a violation as it appeared the lot was overgrown. We are reaching out to Philadelphia Brewing and NKCDC to explain the situation, apologize and explore what we can do to rectify this situation. We’re also engaging with staff on the ground to ensure that proper procedures are followed in the future.”

All well and good, but no amount of apologies will bring this year’s urban hop crop back…Or the revenue from the popular beer.


(All image credits: Philadelphia Brewing Company)

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