By Jon Delano

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As Oktoberfest begins, the Wolf administration has announced a special branding program to identify beers brewed in this state using agricultural products grown in Pennsylvania.

“I think it’s a great idea. Let’s do it,” says Eric Langan of Monroeville. “Love my hometown. Love my state. I think anything that represents my state is good with me.”

The idea is to help consumers – with a checkmark – to identify which beers are made with Pennsylvania-grown barley and hops, two essential ingredients along with water and yeast to make beer.

“What we are doing is celebrating local breweries, the farms that grow hops, the farms that grow the grain and the malt houses that process them,” says Ashlee Dugan, who runs the program for the PA Department of Agriculture. “And we’re celebrating those ingredients and that final product into locally brewed beers.”

Christian Fyke owns the popular RiverTowne Brewing Company, and he says it’s not always easy to get ingredients locally.

“A lot of the barley is coming in from the Midwest or even from overseas in Germany right now,” Fyke told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.

And the same is true for hops, which like the grapes in wine, can make a big difference in the taste.

“There are some hops grown here locally in Pennsylvania, and we look forward to there being more,” Fyke said.

Fyke supports the program, especially if it encourages more Pennsylvania farms to grow barley and hops, and help create unique Pennsylvania beer.

“We can cultivate our own Pennsylvania flavors that go into beer, that can truly define our region,” Fyke said.

A taste of beer made with hops from Australia has a bit of a tropical taste, while hops from Pennsylvania has a piney, resin-y taste.

And while taste is rather personal, beer lovers like the local angle.

“I love locally grown stuff, stuff used here in our state to make beer,” notes Jim Fitzgibbons of Penn Hills.

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