By Julia Burke, Beer Editor

A year ago, for my first-ever NYCR post, I wrote about the Niagara Escarpment's first modern commercial hop grower, Mike Sieczkowski, who planted two rows of hops on Budd Road in Niagara County and found unexpected success.

This week, I 578145200_2053514817_559311845_1287748783562 tried a Flying Bison Brewing Company pilot batch beer made from Sieczkowski's hops. "It is a fresh-hopped american pale ale made with my locally grown Nugget hops and has an ABV of 6.2%," he explained in an email.

The beer is the first in a series that Flying Bison brewmaster Tim Herzog will brew to showcase the local hops on his pilot batch system, which features experimental and unique limited-edition beers. "The intention is to brew a variety of seasonal brews with my hops," says Sieczkowski. "An alt is planned for my Mt. Hoods."

Pilot Batch beers are typically only available at the brewery itself. However, this particular ale was also featured at Pizza Plant for a beer tasting event last week, cask conditioned and served through a beer engine, thanks to Pizza Plant's close relationship with Flying Bison.

A lovely, easy-drinking pale ale with a great nose of fresh apricot and orange hop flavors, the beer is an exciting example of locally grown hops in action.

Sieczkowski is pleased with the success of his small hop farm. "It has been an exciting hop season for me," he says, noting that his hops were showcased with Cornell's local growers exhibit at the Niagara County Fair.

2010 seems to have been a great year for hops as well as wine, as Sieczkowski's own harvest "yielded 20 pounds of fresh hops." 

Look for pictures of Sieczkowski's hop harvest on "Vineyard Visuals" in the next few weeks.