Heritage Hop Tour

Join us on a journey for a behind the scenes tour of hop houses, hop yards, hop related sites, and craft breweries. Lunch at Good Nature Farm Brewery. Attendees receive a complimentary 5 oz. glass. We ask that attendees dress accordingly. Close toed shoes are required to tour the breweries. The tour will start at 9 am at the Madison County Historical Society located at 435 Main Street in Oneida and ends there at 5 pm. 

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The 2018 Madison County Hop Fest Tour will once again feature exemplary structures that demonstrate the four components of 19th C. hop processing, as well as provide new sites of the county’s hop heritage. Thanks to gracious owners of these structures, visitors get to enter the hop houses, see the elements and tools, smell the hop aroma saved in the timbers, and hear the explanations of the processes.  The tour will include many “windshield viewings” of other sites included in the 2006 Bicentennial Hop Heritage Trail and in the Cultural Resources Survey supported by a grant from the Preservation League of New York State in 2006. The coach tour will visit the first commercial 20th C. hop yard and new 21st hop yards in Madison County.


The first stop will be an 1867 hop house that closely replicates the oast houses in the hop-growing region in Kent County, England. The coach will continue to travel south through the Stockbridge valley where there were many hop farms in the 1800s with the next stop at Foothills Hops in Munnsville. Foothills owners Kate and Larry Fisher were early hop growers in the state and now are brewing craft beer. Larry will provide explanations of the hops being dried, packaged, and preserved, and Kate will welcome visitors to the brew shop.


The tour is not complete without a drive around the hamlet of Bouckville where commercial hop growing was introduced to New York State in 1808. A Pomeroy state sign identifies the field where James D. Coolidge planted those first hops, and that sign provides a popular photo option.


The tour lunch this year will be at Good Nature Farm Brewery.  A tour behind the scenes in the brewery will be followed by luncheon with narration about the food and beverage pairing. Good Nature explains that a Farm Brewery is committed to sourcing the ingredients in their beers from New York State Farmers. Good Nature goes a step further by sourcing locally as much as possible, and working directly with neighboring farms to source the freshest ingredients possible.


After lunch the coach will transport the visitors to a double pyramidal hop house which received one of the first NYS Barn grants in 2000 to help with its preservation. Madison County Historical Society volunteers and Cornell University preservation students provided temporary measures to assist protection until more permanent work could be accomplished. Another unusual hop house, which has been repaired and preserved with family resources and a NYS Barn Grant, will be opened for the hop tour with the owners sharing photos of the restoration.


The tour will once again stop at the Copper Turret restaurant and brewery, which serves, as of Fall semester 2018, as the laboratory for the State University of New York students taking courses related to brewing science and technology. Head brewer Michael Coons, who will have been crowned Hop King the day before at the Madison County Hop Fest, will host the tour group in the brew room. Empire Farm, another brewery in Madison County will be a coach turnaround- in order to provide persons unfamiliar with the impressive site. The 2018 Madison County Hop Fest kick-off paired dinner Friday, September 14th will be held in the production room at Empire.


The final visit of the Hop Fest tour will be at the Bineyard owned by Chad Meigs and Kate Braddock. Chad will describe his hop farm development and demonstrate how his German Wolf hop harvester operates.


The tour starts at 9 am at the Madison County Historical Society at 435 Main Street in the Carriage Barn where the Bittersweet hop exhibit and the film When Hop Was King will welcome preregistered guests.

Dot Willsey, hop heritage promoter, and Carl Stearns, preservation architect will guide the tour sharing Madison County’s proud hop heritage during the tour’s journey. Tickets for the tour are $40. Reservation required by September 7. Lunch will be at Good Nature Farm Brewery. Attendees receive a complimentary 5 oz. glass.  We ask that attendees dress accordingly. Close toed shoes are required to tour the breweries. The tour will start at 9 am at the Madison County Historical Society and ends there at 5 pm. The Heritage Hop Tour is made possible from the generous support from Hale Transportation Group.

The Heritage Hop Tour is one of the many exciting activities happening during the Madison County Hop Fest Weekend that starts Friday, September 14 with a paired beer dinner, followed by Hop Fest on Sept. 15 on the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society in Oneida.