Hop Picking Watsonivlle Mcgrath Hop Fields Mah Box 1 Folder 25

Thu, Apr 09, 2020

Harvesting Our Heritage: Hops and Beer

Ever wonder where those hops in your beer originated? In 1850 the Pajaro Valley, more famously known for its strawberries, artichokes, and lettuce was once cultivated with up to 400 acres of hops fields.

Inside the MAH Publication, Harvesting Our Heritage, local historians and foodies dig into the unique stories found across Santa Cruz County. One of the stories brewing? You guessed it, hops.

Fields of Gold

Hop Picking Watsonivlle Mcgrath Hop Fields Mah Box 1 Folder 25

William McGrath was an Irish immigrant who came to California to prospect during the gold rush. Although prospecting fell flat, he saw richness in the fields of Pajaro Valley. He became known for a unique strain of hops called the McGrath variety. When he died in 1904, he had become one of the most wealthy men in the region.

Local Hops

The first brewery in Santa Cruz County opened in 1860- the Pajaro Brewery in Watsonville. Not wanting to be left thirsty, Santa Cruz opened Bavarian Brewery in 1865. Other local establishments followed boasting brass bands and croquet to accompany their pours. After prohibition, Santa Cruz like must cities found itself in a dry season The first business to reintroduce tastebuds to the bitter hop was the Santa Cruz Brewing and Front St. pub which opened in 1985.

Knowing that sobering history it is no wonder Santa Cruz has found itself home to such a wide array of craft breweries. Some creative residents found beer’s robust flavor to enhance cooking too. If you can spare a bottle, give this recipe a try.

Recipe: Zucchini in Italian Beer Batter


1 ¼ cups beer

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cup flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

Dash garlic powder

2 beaten egg yolks

2 stiffly beaten egg whites


Let beer go flat (45 minutes at room temperature)

In mixing bowl combine all ingredients except beaten egg white and beat until smooth

Fold in egg white

Dip vegetables in batter and fry in deep, hot fat (375 degrees) 2-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Support Local Farmworkers

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Today, California produces over 350 commodities; including 1/3 of the nation's vegetables and nearly 2/3 of the nation's fruits and nuts. Approximately 75% of those California farmworkers are undocumented, reaching up to 83% in Santa Cruz County.

Learn more about how you can support our local farmworker community and their families by visiting the Center for Farmworker Families website.