P.E.I. family hopes to create one of the largest commercial hopyards in the country

·3 min read

An Island couple is looking to create one of the largest commercial hopyards in the country in Mount Albion, P.E.I.

More than 15,000 hops plants are going to be planted on 25 acres next weekend, as the Island Hop Company digs in on its first summer in business on Prince Edward Island.

The family farm is run by Josh Mayich and his wife, who moved here earlier this year from New Brunswick after being convinced P.E.I. was the place to be by MP Lawrence MacAulay.

Growing hops runs in Mayich's family, but it wasn't the career path he chose right away.

By trade he was an orthopedic trauma surgeon, working six to seven days a week, at times.

From surgeon to cicerone

Brewing and beer were always his passion, and he'd grown hops on his property outside of Saint John — with some guidance and instruction from his grandfather.

"He helped guide me through how to grow hops over the phone, and so it took right off and before you know it I was travelling North America giving talks on hops, and hops and cell science and brewing chemistry," he said.

Mayich eventually became a certified cicerone and his love for hops and beer continued to grow, and breweries the world over took notice, he said.

"Breweries, you know, in South America, the U.S. … in Europe and across Canada were saying to me, like, 'Stop wasting your time with this surgery garbage and get us some hops,'" he joked.

With that in mind, Mayich reconsidered what he wanted to do in life. So he left the scalpel for the shovel.

Hope is to have one of the largest facilities in North America

The family will be growing six different varieties of hops on P.E.I., with a focus on German, Czech, Slovenian and British plants.

"They just seem to respond to our temperatures, our growing season lengths and a few other variables in a very favourable way," Mayich said. But they'll also be experimenting with other hops varieties from the U.S. and New Zealand.

They eventually want to build a state-of-the-art processing facility on their property as well, and Mayich said the next biggest hopyard would be in Chilliwack, B.C., and "there is no other facility of this size that is particularly targeted to lager beer production and there's no other facility like this in Canada when it comes to processing."

"We certainly would be the largest producer of lager beer hops in Canada and, hopefully, over the next three to four years, be one of the biggest in North America."

The family begins planting next weekend, Aug. 8-9, and is looking for volunteers to help plant.

There isn't a "huge window" to get the roughly 15,000 plants in the ground, he said, so they're looking for all the help they can get.

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