Great news out of the great state of New York this morning:
The Cuomo Administration on Tuesday unveiled proposed legislation aimed at fermenting a revitalized hops industry in the state, playing off the boom in craft beers, as well as the interest in locally sourced crops. "We're really on the cusp of something new here," said State Liquor Authority Chairman Dennis Rosen, whose agency has oversight of establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. The legislation would create a new farm brewery license and it would phase in requirements that brewers use substantial amounts of New York-grown hops. But it would also remove bureaucratic barriers to hops farmers who wanted to brew and sell their own beers, and perhaps open restaurants and other facilities for visitors.
What a great idea. Treating the produce of the farmer's labour for public consumption as the produce of the farmer's labour for public consumption and not some moral boogie man. 150 years ago, New York state was the world's supplier of hops. Why not support and encourage the home grown product with that track record? I have to admit a bit of a connection if not a conflict. I have had a beer with the person who made the announcement, Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine. He's an umpteenth-generation dairy farmer from the very village in upstate NY that faces my community here on the north side of the big river and he used to be the State Senator for that district. I was invited to an election night gathering in a pub and got to spend a bit of time with him when I was not bouncing an Assemblywoman's baby on my knee or chatting with the host, a judge seeking reelection. Quite refreshing for someone used to staid Canadians. And all sensible hardworking people as so many northern New Yorkers of all stripes have struck me as being.
This opportunity reflects that point of view. Good sensible encouragement of the real "local" in that rarest of things, actual local beer. Now to get the malt industry back in action.