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Farmers, processors reviving Wisconsin hops industry « Back to Search Results

ALGOMA - In the middle of dairy country, Russ Fulwiler had a different beverage on his mind when he went to plant crops.

Dairy farming and related businesses generated $295.8 million of economic activity in Kewaunee County last year, accounting for almost two-thirds of the county’s agriculture industry.  

Milk may be king in Kewaunee, but Fulwiler saw an opportunity to provide a key ingredient for Wisconsin’s other favorite beverage: beer. Since 2012, he has grown five acres of hops on his Birch Road farm just outside Algoma.

“I didn’t know a quarter of what I needed to know at the time (I started),” Fulwiler said. “It’s a really labor-intensive process. Five acres is a fair size (hop crop) for Wisconsin now.”

Fulwiler might not be in the hop-growing vanguard, but a few dozen farmers like him have returned to a crop that was synonymous with Wisconsin agriculture 150 years ago.

As local food and farm-to-table movements continue to gain popularity in Wisconsin communities, Fulwiler’s helping extend the idea to beer:

His Cascade hops flavor every pint of Heyder Helles and Boat Load IPA poured at Thumb Knuckle Brewing Co. near Luxemburg.

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