From John’s Notebook: Hop Planting at Sunny Brae

Normally when you hear “so I met this guy on the internet” the story takes a turn for the worse…well not this one.

I don’t remember the exact post, but I came across a picture of one of our beers with fresh hops beside it and it looked delicious. That’s when I met Adam….turns out this guy decided to quit his day job, plow over his back yard (and the farm next to him), drive telephone pole size stakes in the ground and plant hops in an idyllic locale he named Sunny Brae Farms! Now that’s a guy I want to have a beer with (and also brew a beer with).


Adam’s interest in hop-growing stems from his background in soil science as well as his fascination with craft beer. And it turns out Sunny Brae provided the perfect soil for growing hops. The coarse, stony composition of the earth prevents the ground from getting too soggy, which can ultimately rot out hop roots, and the exposure to sunlight and breeze helps keep the base of his plants dry and aids in keeping common diseases under control. Ultimately Adam said his goal was to make a connection with the local community, and with the abundance of small, independent breweries in Central PA; he hopes to open the door to collaborations and infuse a sense of #local pride into the beers for which he provides hops.


Adam admits his decision to enter the hop-growing business took a big leap of faith. “There’s lots of planning and waiting involved and it’s a two- to three-year process just to get everything up and running.” However, he hopes to establish an organic approach to growing hops through the ideal conditions of his farm’s location.

When we started talking, Adam had an acre or so planted with first year plants and was looking for a brewery that was interested in taking wet hops…perfect timing we were looking for a local source for wet hops. The catch was his current farm wasn’t going to have enough for the batch size I was hoping for, and that small opportunity snowballed into the Troegs team helping to plant hundreds of baby hop rhizomes one beautiful morning in Carlisle Pennsylvania.

The goal for our day at Sunny Brae was to plant two acres of Cascade, Chinook, Comet, and Nugget hops to be used for future Scratch Beer releases.

Sunny Brae offered tools of the trade (shovels, garden trowels), plenty of ice-cold water, and beautiful scenery for the day, while our team supplied a good bit of sweat and elbow grease. The reward? Beer, of course! We cooled off with cans Cultivator Helles Bock after a sweltering morning of planting more than 1200 hop saplings.


Chef Christian provided a delicious ploughman’s lunch consisting of a variety of house-cured meats, cheeses and breads. The day culminated with a communal meal shared by both Tröegs and the fine folks at Sunny Brae outside on the farm under the sunny skies with bluegrass music playing in the background. All in all, it was a Sunny Brae day done the #troegsway.