Friends growing hops for local beer maker

Nominate a Top Woman in Business. Click here. Nominate an NEPA business professional under 40. Click here.

20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:17 11:10:02

Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:09 13:55:46

Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 11:21:35

Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 15:19:17

For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:09 11:13:04

Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:16 13:11:08

William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 16:09:11

Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:17 12:38:37

At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:15 09:50:19

William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 13:25:24

As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 13:34:44

Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 14:24:50

Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:07 17:18:26

John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 17:19:58

“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 14:12:08

Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:08 10:15:37

David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 12:41:32

Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 10:02:06

Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 14:59:27

Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:16 09:38:07

As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

Find us on Facebook!

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

"Like" us on Facebook for all of the latest news! (read more)

Follow us on Twitter!

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Follow us for constant updates! (read more)

Article Tools

Font size
Share This

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:08:23 23:20:11

Times-Tribune File Photo From left, Paul Robinson, Joe Mitchell and Tony Caputo stand in front of the hops plants growing on Mitchell’s property. The three men, along with Mike Barziloski, are growing hops at Avery Mountain Bines and Twine farm in Tunkhannock Township in Wyoming County. The hops are being sold to Irving Cliff Brewery of Honesdale.

By C.J. Marshall

Four partners in the Wyoming County farm of Avery Mountain Bines and Twine hope to bring new life to an old crop.

This year, area residents Joe Mitchell, Paul Robinson, Tony Caputo and Mike Barziloski have 1 acre dedicated to growing hops.

And, if you happen to be on Lane Hill, you might be surprised to see some hops plants approximately 20 feet high, growing along wire provided for support.

Hops is a main ingredient in beer, which gives the beverage its distinctive bitter taste.

Mitchell said their Tunkhannock Township business has entered into an agreement with Irving Cliff Brewery of Honesdale to take their entire crop.

At one time, hops was a popular crop in Pennsylvania, Mitchell said, and that’s where the name of Hop Bottom in Susquehanna County originated.

But in the late 1800s, many of the plants were destroyed by mildew, and Prohibition effectively killed the hops industry in the eastern section of the country.

The crop was primarily cultivated in western states like Washington and Oregon, where the laws were less stringently enforced. New York has made a comeback in hops production, but Pennsylvania has been slower in reintroducing the crop.

Recently, Mitchell said, leading agriculturalist Keith Eckel, owner of Eckels Farm of Clarks Summit, happened to be passing by and asked about the operation.

“He looked at everything up and down, and asked what it is,” Mitchell said. “I told him it’s a hops farm. And he said, ‘Get out of here.’”

Last year, the four men were thinking about starting a new business.

During a trip to Florida, Mitchell had seen a hops operation, and became intrigued with the possibility of setting up something like it in Pennsylvania.

Attending seminars and obtaining information from such sources as Penn State Extension, Michigan State University and the University of Florida, the owners set up an acre of land on Mitchell’s property and planted their first crop in May.

Hops come in more than 100 species, Mitchell said, and the guys decided to grow chinook

and cascade.

“They’re more reliable,” Robinson explained. “More resilient to mildew.”

But they discovered their work was just


Unlike many other types of crops, hops require constant watching and care.

“Within a week, we realized it was going to be a struggle,” Mitchell explained. “We found out that hops need a lot of water.”

But too much water causes problems.

At first, the owners used a water truck.

Mitchell said that’s the worst thing you can do, because it encourages the formation of mildew, and is also detrimental to the plants in other ways.

The solution was to install a drip irrigation system, in which water is provided to the

plants slowly.

“Our biggest hurdle is water,” Mitchell said. “One hops plant needs about a gallon of water per day, then multiply that by 700.”

Bennie’s Nursery of Tunkhannock has been providing them with the necessary water.

Mitchell said that Veto Barziloski Sr., owner of Bennie’s Nursery, has been very helpful in supplying the water.

Next year, Mitchell said, they anticipate having 3,000 plants, and will seek assistance from excavator Frank Strumski.

“He’s either going to put a well in, or put a pond in the back,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell added he and his friends had been told not to expect a crop for three years.

Yet, something fell into place for the operation, because there are now hops plants in the field more than 20 feet tall.

“We have moved up our timetable in some areas — what we figured we’d be doing in five years has now been pushed up to two years,” he said.

The owners recently harvested the hops. But Caputo said they still must take great care in making certain nothing happens. Each day the plants are inspected for signs of mildew. Another big problem is insects — if left unattended, the entire crop could be devastated by European corn borers, or tent caterpillars.

The cones of the hops plant are what breweries use to produce beer, Caputo said. Looking like tiny green pine cones, they have the distinctive smell and taste associated with beer. This year, the operation is expected to yield a few hundred pounds of cones. More is anticipated next year.

Mitchell said he and his partners are very pleased with the results and are looking forward to expanding the operation. Everyone they’ve worked with in setting up their operation has been very helpful and supportive in their efforts.

“It’s better to try, than never to try at all,”

he said.

C.J. Marshall is a writer for Wyoming County Examiner, a Times-Shamrock newspaper.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.