Sonoma County was once renowned for the quality and flavor of the hops grown in it's unique micro-climates and soils, until commercial farming became more economical up in Washington State. Fogbelt began working with with other local small farmers to bring hops back to Sonoma County agriculture, or at least to tastebuds of hop aficionados. In 2016 Paul helped to launch the NorCal Hop Growers Alliance to support and promote small scale hop farming in the North Bay. www.norcalhopgrowersalliance.org
Sonoma County was once one of the largest hop growing regions in the nation, but all that remains today are the ghostly shells of old hop-kilns. Paul Hawley has been experimenting with growing hops for years. He farms close to 400 vines on Fogbelt's 1/4 acre hopyard in Healdsburg. Paul takes the lead and has experimented with many different varieties finding success with Cascade, Chinook, Colombus, and a local heritage hop identified as California Cluster.
Most of the locally grown hops are used to make wet hop beers. This style requires hops that are harvested and brewed within hours, rather than dried and preserved. Wet hop beers have unique flavor that has been equated to cooking with fresh herbs versus dried. The hop harvest is usually late July to late August.