Crown Brewing, the acclaimed craft brewery in downtown Crown Point, is getting local — really local with a new farm-to-pint arrangement.
The brewery at 211 S. East St. signed a supply deal with Howe Farms, located just outside of Crown Point, to use at least one or two of its hops in every beer it brews this year.
Crown Brewing, which organizes the Crown Beer Fest, which has become one of the Region's longest-running and most popular craft beer festivals, brews about 40 different beers, including “The Dude” Java Porter, Special Forces IPA and its World Beer Cup award-winning Industrial Porter.
"We have been purchasing from Howe Farms for several years now," Crown Brewing owner Dave Bryan said. "He's now increased his production and variety enough that we looked at our recipes and saw that we could use his hops in all our beers. I believe he's tripled his acreage."
Crown Brewing will still need to ship in some hops from the Pacific Northwest that don't grow well in the Northwest Indiana climate or that are exclusive to certain farms, like the Citra hop. But it will be able to use at least one hop grown just a few miles away in every beer it brews and serves at the brewpub or bottles and distributes this year, Bryan said.
"We got a lot of our hops from Yakima Valley," Bryan said. "We're going to give this a try this year and see how it works. If the production stays up, we would like to make it permanent."
Locally grown hops are much fresher, and the difference can be tasted in the beer, Bryan said. There are environmental benefits to sourcing an ingredient so close to home, so it doesn't have to be trucked across the country by an emission-belching tractor-trailer. But most of all, the brewery aims to support fellow local businesses.
"For us it means everything to support local farmers and local community shops at our establishment," Bryan said. "We have a commitment to local community partnerships. We're committed to local establishments."
Former teacher Steve Howe founded Howe Farms at 14091 Grand Boulevard in Crown Point seven years ago, and started growing hops for craft beer about five years ago. The small craft farm supplies pork to The Wurst Butcher Shop in Griffith and hops to a number of craft breweries, including Four Fathers in Valparaiso, Burn 'Em Brewing in Michigan City, Studebaker Brewing Co. in South Bend, and Evil Czech in Mishawaka.
"We've worked with Crown for a couple of years and value our partnership with them," Howe said. "It's good for the community to have solidarity, to use local and be local."
Howe said his locally grown hops were in high demand and there is value to using local ingredients, including a reduced carbon footprint.
"I'm dedicated to trying to get better and working to making a better product for the breweries," he said. "The best things out there are in your community. For us this is about the community and the partnership."