A fifth-generation farmer is putting on the inaugural Montana Fresh Hop Festival, a celebration of craft beer and all the work that goes into creating it.

“The whole goal is to be connecting people with the agriculture behind beer,” said Jake TeSelle, 26. TeSelle is the founder of Crooked Yard Hops, a local farm dedicated to supplying local and state breweries with freshly harvested hops.

The Montana Fresh Hop Festival will feature between 15 and 20 Montana breweries, all offering attendees tastes of the brews created from Crooked Yard hops.

The festival is on Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the Gallatin Valley Fairgrounds Barn #1. Tickets are available at the door and online at mtfreshfest.com.

Fresh hop beers are different from a run-of-the-mill craft beer in a few ways. The biggest and most notable difference is that fresh hop beers are made with full hop cones, picked 24 hours or less before beer production begins. That makes fresh hop beers somewhat tricky to make if a brewery is importing hops from out of state, but much less so if the hop farm is right outside of town.

TeSelle said the proceeds of the festival will be donated to Gallatin Valley Land Trust, a group working to conserve land and expand trail systems. Some of TeSelle’s hop farm is on a land easement created in part by GVLT.

“To me, it’s one of the most important things that’s going on in Bozeman,” he said about GVLT. “You’ve got to be blind to not see the crazy, sprawling growth ... If we’re not careful, it’s just going to be one giant parking lot.”

TeSelle’s family has farmed the land Crooked Yard is on for generations, but he’s the first of the family to grow hops there.

“I was thinking, what is a more high-value, specialty market to get into?” he said. At the time, droughts and fires had decimated the national hop harvest, but craft beer was skyrocketing in popularity. So TeSelle put in a test plot to grow hops on his land.

“We had to start from scratch and figure out how to farm hops in Montana,” he said. It wasn’t easy; hops are picky crops, needing trellises and extra attention to be successful. But Crooked Yard Hops has expanded its hop output by about 25% every year since it began, he said, and this year was its biggest year yet. So he began selling to local breweries, and then breweries around the state. TeSelle thought the beer was cause for celebration, and Montana Fresh Hops Festival was born.

“We’re just trying to conserve what makes this place cool,” he said. “Just make sure people still care about farming.”

Melissa Loveridge can be reached at {/span}mloveridge@dailychronicle.com{span} or at 406-582-2603. Follow her on Twitter @mel_loveridge.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.