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edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016

Since then, Taylor has spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of the McGrath hop’s growing habits, learning when to cut it back, when to feed it different nutrients and when to harvest it. “e hop is magical. It’s unlike any other hop I’ve come across,” says Taylor, noting that its flower exhibits notes of citrus, floral and jasmine with Bartlett pear. PUTTING IT TO THE TEST To showcase the special hop’s qualities, Taylor first used it to make a simple Belgian blonde. “I hopped it a little more, similar to an American pale ale and used the Belgian ale yeast to ferment it out,” Taylor says. Next, he made an American pale ale. Taylor had loved the Belgian, but found the yeast to be a bit too expressive and wanted to work with an American strain of yeast that would really complement the hop’s flavor without overwhelming its subtleties. Taylor began doing more research on the history of the hop and in 2008 found out that one of his brother’s old school pals, Jeff Bassman, lived on the old McGrath Ranch and his mother’s maiden name was McGrath. So Luke went out to visit and met the whole family, including Jeff’s grandma, Shirley McGrath, and his parents, George and Joan Bassman. And then they went about creating a plan to revive the growth of the McGrath hop together. is was right around the time that Corralitos Brewing Co. was submitting for its permit application and moving into the Pacific Firewood building, which is zoned for commercial agriculture. So Taylor was already planting hops at the site that would become his brewery and tasting room. In 2014, Taylor helped return the hop to the original McGrath Ranch, planting 25 hills of McGrath hops together with Jeff Bassman and his father George. Jeff, a butcher at Freedom Meat Locker, now manages the crop. “I essentially resurrected their family heirloom, and they loved the idea and took off with it,” Taylor says. 32 edible monterey bay summer 2016 Shirley McGrath, now 89, remembers the days when the original hops were grown. She has six great-grandchildren who now live on the ranch, and she thinks it’s a wonderful way for them to grow up. Her husband, now deceased, started working in the hop fields when he was 15. George McGrath was her cousin. “Of course, it was a big job, but they just grew beautifully,” she says, “I’m happy to see the hops growing again. I think it’s great, and I love to look at them, too.” e first harvest of McGrath Ranch’s newly planted hops in September 2014 yielded roughly 50 pounds of dried hops—just enough for the first large batch of My Girl, which through home brewing experimentation had transformed from an American pale ale to an American rye pale ale. “I really like the spiciness and almost dry mouth feel that the rye brings to the beer in combination with the qualities of the hop,” Taylor says. Last year, another 65 hills of McGrath hops were added to the ranch. During the harvest, Taylor threw a hops picking party complete with free beer. (See photos p. 30–31.) He brought his home-brew system and put hops straight into the kettle for a limited-release, wethopped My Girl. irty-five people were in attendance, and this year about 80 will be on site lending a hand. EXPLORE:e Agricultural History Project Center and Museum in Watsonville offers an exhibit dedicated to the history of hops in the Pajaro Valley. Learn more at www.aghistoryproject.org. To take a hopsgrowing class, contact Luke Taylor at luke@corralitosbrewingco.com. Elizabeth Hodges is a freelance writer and owner of the Verdant Pantry, based in South Santa Cruz County. During her free time, she enjoys keeping chickens, gardening and connecting with the local food community as communications chair for Slow Food Santa Cruz. HEADING TO SANTA CRUZ? THE SANTA CRUZ BEER TRAIL PASSPORT IS HERE TO HELP! e Santa Cruz Beer Trail, co-created by Bryce Root, founder of the small-business marketing firm, e Root Group, and e Brew Cruz tour operator, Annie Pautsch, is here to take your craft beer exploration to the next level. e Beer Trail’s recently launched Santa Cruz Beer Trail Passport, First Release 2016—our region’s very first beer passport—costs $25 and is full of helpful information for navigating your beer exploration in the northern part of our coverage area. e passport is also packed with discounts of beer and food. For example, Steel Bonnet Brewing in Scotts Valley is offering passport holders a pint and a bag of chips for $1; Santa Cruz Ale Works is giving 50% off on a tasting flight and three bottles of beer for $10. It’s a big world of beer out there. Grab your passport and go explore! —Rosie Parker Santa Cruz Beer Trail Passport • SantaCruzBeerTrail.com


edible Monterey Bay Summer 2016
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