Growing hops is tough. As an agricultural product, it’s subject to the whims of mother nature, not to mention the amount of capital it takes to get a hop farm off the ground. That’s not to say it can’t be done. In early 2013, there was a crop of small hop farmers that were budding to support local craft brewers. That trend continues today. If you’re a craft brewer looking to start your own farm or a pioneering entrepreneur, this webinar from eOrganic on how to start a small-scale hop production is a good place to begin:
It’s certainly tough, but starting your own small hop farm is an attainable goal. It even has the support of the larger growers and distributors. When we last checked in with Sean McGree, hop specialist with BSG CraftBrewing, he said:
“I think the new hop farms have been great,” he said. “I have been in this industry long enough to witness a dwindling grower base — less than 40 growers in the Northwest today — and major brewers reducing hopping rates every year to almost the point of extinction. The craft brewing industry has generated some major excitement, and the new hop farms have popped up as a result.”
Of course, as a small startup, your hop success will live and die on the quality of your business – from your initial planning to quality control processes. While hops are hardy plants that can grow in just about any climate, there are many challenges that face small startup growers. For a full overview, click here to read our feature on the craft beer industry’s impact on hop growers.