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A GROWING PASSION: Homegrown Hops: Local Flavor For Local Brews

Host Nan Sterman tastes wet hop beer.
Courtesy of Michael Gerdes / AGP Productions
Host Nan Sterman tastes wet hop beer.

Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 8:30 p.m. on KPBS TV / Stream now with the PBS App + Encore Monday, May 20 at 8:30 p.m. on KPBS 2

Brewing is the rage in San Diego County. At last count, there were 110 craft breweries and more in the planning stages. Many of these new microbreweries evolved from thousands of home brewers who make beer in their garages or on back patios. Beer recipes start with a few basic ingredients: water, grain, yeast, and hops. Everything else is a variation on the theme. At the same time, a market for local hops is slowly developing around the local brewing community. It's making some people wonder if Southern California will soon emulate the early 1900s, when northern California was the country's largest hops producer.

Close-up photo of lupulin, the yellow substance found on the flowers of the female hop plant.
Courtesy of Michael Gerdes / AGP Productions
Close-up photo of lupulin, the yellow substance found on the flowers of the female hop plant.

On this episode, we explore the process of planting, growing, trellising, harvesting, preserving and using local hops. Along the way, we visit a local home brewer and science teacher who grows his own hops in Escondido, California. Another stop is the area's largest and oldest hops farm, to see mechanized hops processing, then follow the harvest to a local commercial brewery where the brewer uses it in a wet hop beer.

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Host Nan Sterman with the brewer and the grower.
Courtesy of Michael Gerdes / AGP Productions
Host Nan Sterman with the brewer and the grower.

At a local brewing supply store, we discuss the history, purpose, and origins of hops in beer - as well as all the gadgets and doo-hickeys home brewers like to use. We end, in host Nan Sterman's garage-turned-brewery, where her husband demonstrates how he makes his own "special brew."

Host Nan Sterman (right) and Curt taste beer.
Courtesy of Michael Gerdes / AGP Productions
Host Nan Sterman (right) and Curt taste beer.

Watch On Your Schedule: Episodes of A GROWING PASSION are available stream now with the PBS App. Watch the best of PBS anytime, anywhere on the free PBS app. Stream your favorite PBS shows on-demand and livestream shows from your local station, all from your favorite device.

A GROWING PASSION: Season 5 Preview

About The Series: Host Nan Sterman returns for Season 5 of A GROWING PASSION, a television show that celebrates all the ways that San Diego “grows,” from farms and nurseries to backyards and schoolyards, to native habitats and more. A GROWING PASSION is on Facebook. Share photos and follow the series on Instagram.