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Philadelphia Cuts Down Brewery's Entire Hop Crop

Workers mistook them for weeds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2022 10:21 AM CDT
Updated Sep 25, 2022 11:45 AM CDT

The Philadelphia Brewing Company won't be releasing its popular Harvest From the Hood pale ale this year because overzealous city workers destroyed the crop of hops it was growing in a lot next to the brewery. Brewery co-owner Nancy Barton says the hops—fast-growing climbing plants—were being grown in pots in a fenced-off lot leased from a nonprofit, and there was a sign reading "Hop Garden: Watch Us Grow" that explained what was being done, Food & Wine reports. She says the city's mistake wiped out six months of hard work and will cost the brewery up to $40,000 in lost revenue. Barton says the hop vines were growing along strings of rope and had been tended to by an employee who made the project "his baby." Workers also made sure the lot was well-maintained and free from weeds.

The brewery has been growing hops on the lot in the city's Kensington neighborhood for around seven years. Barton says that after the city issued a violation notice for overgrown vegetation in mid-August, she told officials that the lot was a garden they were maintaining. She says an inspector visited the site and told her, "Case is closed and you guys are good," WPVI reports. But on Sept. 13, a city crew came and cut down the entire crop. "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," a city spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the city has reached out to the brewery to "apologize and explore what we can do to rectify this situation."

Barton tells the Washington Post that it "probably would have been the best year we've had with these hops" and they were around two weeks away from harvest. Most beer, including the Philadelphia Brewing Company's other ales, is brewed with dried hops. Barton says adding the freshly picked hops to the Hood ale "gives it more of a very fresh, earthy flavor to it" and means the beer changes every year depending on the harvest. She says the brewery has been offered hops by people around the country, which makes her "feel much better about humanity," though she has turned the offers down because the local hops are the whole point of the beer. The weed-whackers left the plant's underground stems attached, so the hops will be back next year, Barton says. (Read more beer stories.)

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