Mark Pattison picks a hop cone off the vine and rapidly rolls it back and forth between his hands. A sticky, yellow powder coats his palms, releasing an aroma that’s woodsy yet floral.
“See that? That’s what you want,” Pattison says, holding out his hands to show how they’ve turned yellow from the lupulin — the oil inside hops that give beer its bitter flavor and aroma. “These (hops) are perfect.”
Pattison is one of the founders and owners of Buck Creek Hops, Iowa’s largest hops farm with 50 acres near Solon in eastern Iowa. Since its first hops were planted in 2014, Buck Creek Hops gets several calls each week from people interested in growing hops here in Iowa, Pattison says.
Hops acreage in Iowa has grown from just 5 to 10 acres in 2014 to about 60 acres today, says Diana Cochran, a horticulturalist for Iowa State University Extension and...