In this episode of the UnCapped podcast, host Chris Sands talked with Prospect Point Brewing cofounder Dan Carroll about how he went from being a hop farmer to opening a farm brewery in Frederick, and what it has been like for the past year, as the brewery celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 20. Here is an excerpt of their talk.
UnCapped: You have your one-year anniversary [this month]. … You’ve had this farm for a long time though, correct?
Dan Carroll: The farm itself was purchased back in 2014.
UnCapped: That sounds so long ago. I guess it’s really not.
Carroll: Sometimes it feels long ago. Just thinking about what was going on back then versus now, it’s crazy. We’ve always had [the brewery] as a plan, but it took a few years to finally get it off the ground and get it to where we want it to be.
[It started when] I was biking up 180 and came across the For Sale sign, went back and got my truck, popped up over the hill, and overlooked what was just an open field, and you could kind of visualize how the brewery would sit, overlooking the hop yard.
UnCapped: You started out growing hops here right away, right?
Carroll: Yep, we put in the hop yard in 2015, mainly to supplement our original field that’s in Rohrersville, right up the street from Big Cork. We were selling to local breweries around here and home brewing and all that type of good stuff, but the brewery was always on the back burner to the commercial hop growing.
UnCapped: You’re still [growing hops], right?
Carroll: That’s pretty much been put to the side. When we got the green light to [open the brewery], we had to pull back a little bit. We actually took out the other yard in Rohrersville. We had to put this field on the back burner all of last season. We’re slowly gonna try to recapture it this year and build it back up to where it was.
UnCapped: Are you excited about the Monocacy hop?
Carroll: Yeah. We’re very interested in seeing [its] potential over the next couple of years. It looks awesome. Bryan [Butler, of the University of Maryland Extension] is doing a fantastic job with it. I did not get to taste any of the beer that Tom [Barse, of Milkhouse Brewery] brewed with it this year, but we’re definitely excited. I’m hoping to get my hands on it in the next year or so, if we can.
UnCapped: I think the next batches will be done by Tom, and Heavy Seas is brewing some beer with it. They wanted to add a large production brewery to further investigate its viability of it being a usable hop.
Carroll: That’s awesome. And the fact that it’s Maryland will make it that much more special.
UnCapped: Because we love Maryland.
Carroll: I know. We do. We definitely do.
UnCapped: How did you end up growing hops?
Carroll: I actually blame Tom for it. We were home brewers first. ... I went to Tom’s probably first festival and talked with Tom and one of his friends about growing hops. I’d planted probably five or six plants at my house, strictly for home brewing, and got tricked into thinking it was a good idea. I then talked my mom and stepdad into putting the field in over in Rohrersville, like, “We could probably do this as supplemental income.” It was ... no actual income.
UnCapped: [Laughs.] So more of a non-revenue-producing hobby.
Carroll: Yeah, it was like a really bad nonprofit. Luckily I have a very supportive, understanding wife that allowed me to do all that.
UnCapped: During the episode we did about the Monocacy hop, that was one of the things Bryan really stressed: You can grow hops in Maryland, but it’s gonna be very hard to make it profitable because of all the care and maintenance it takes to do it here. The Monocacy hop has the possibility of not needing all that hand-holding that the other variants do.
Carroll: Yeah, that’s an issue. Between all the different mildews you fight around here, little bit shorter growing season, we don’t get as much sun, heavy humidity all put a lot more stress on plants. So yeah, you can grow them, but to grow them well enough make money off of them is about next to impossible.
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