As reported in The Hutchinson News: MOSCOW — When Brandi Lahey started growing hops five years ago, she was not sure what she was going to do with the flowering plant. Her husband Evan Lahey already grew corn, cotton, sorghum and wheat on their farm in southwest Kansas. Brandi Lahey wanted to grow something different and diversify.
Brandi Lahey’s passion increased, she kept planting, had a festival to introduce the crop to the community, and began selling hops to a nearby brewery.
Soon Brandi Lahey’s passion turned to educating. This past May, she decided to open a mobile drink business and travel statewide. She calls this business The Tipsy Farmer.
Wanting to get the message out about Kansas-produced craft beers, Lahey turned an old trailer into a traveling bar of sorts – it features Dodge City Brewing, the brewery that uses her Kansas-grown hops in their brews. She also sells other craft beers from around the state on her trailer.
And for those hot summer nights, Lahey and her father Steve Morisse sell all kinds of margaritas. They bring their Tipsy Farmer mobile camper bar to fairs, weddings and rodeos.
“We want to promote Kansas craft beer,” Lahey said. “We can have six (beers) on tap.”
Lahey is willing to go just about anywhere in Kansas.
“We introduce people to craft beer,” Morisse said. “We try to convince them to broaden their horizons.”
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Soon, Lahey will be selling a newly-minted brand of craft beer on her Tipsy Farmer mobile bar – Hidden Trail Brewing. Hidden Trail will use Lahey’s hops as well as wheat from co-owner Cody Cundiff’s brother-in-law’s wheat farm in Deerfield.
Hidden Trail Brewing will open in mid to late October in a 1940s barn at 2010 E. Schulman Ave. in Garden City. They will produce all types of beers from pilsners to IPAs to German Dunkels.
We want to have a little bit of everything,” Cundiff said. “We’re open to new things.”
Defiance Brewing of Hays helped Cundiff and his partners with crafting a business plan for their brewery. With indoor and outdoor seating, the brewery will focus on as many Kansas-grown ingredients as they can.
Defiance Brewing Company owners opened a new location in Hays — and this one serves food.
In 2018, two years after planting their first hops plant, Lahey and her father were growing six varieties of hops, around 300 plants, in their hop yard. Morisse, who had grown up on a farm outside of Elkhart, was integral in the production process.
The next year, they chose three of their hardiest breeds – Cascade, Chinook and Comet – that could sustain southwestern Kansas wind and drought and expanded their trellis system to an acre.
Last year, they lost many of their plants to hail. They also hired a local agronomist.
“It takes three to four years for a hop plant to mature,” Morisse said. “It puts on cones and gets to a full yield potential.”
For the past four years, the father and daughter team (with the help of some of Lahey’s children) hand picked the crop. This year, they utilized a hop harvester. After harvesting, they make pellets from the hops.
“It dissolves and gives the flavors to the beer,” Lahey said.