For as abundant as hops are (and there’s possibly too many of them now) they sure are a fickle, expensive undertaking for growers. Plus, we have to wait for harvest time every year to get that fresh hop goodness. I, for one, demand that nature bend more to my will and allow for more efficient, localized hop growing. Rough Brothers Inc. (RBI) has launched a new concept that might do just that, changing everything we know about hop growing.
The idea is HopsHouse, a single-solution greenhouse designed to optimize yields through integrated systems and precision farming. It is the first single-solution hydroponic greenhouse for year-round hops growth and harvests, anywhere from two to five times a year. RBI says HopsHouse will provide growers and breweries a competitive advantage, supplying a fresher and more local product — straight from the bine to the brewery.
“The craft beer industry is growing. We saw an opportunity, and we are running with it,” said Tom Vezdos, RBI vice president and divisional manager of commercial greenhouses. “The introduction of HopsHouse allows breweries and growers to be more independent. No longer will breweries and growers be at the mercy of big beer conglomerates or inclement weather.”
Hops are a relative of cannabis and grow similarly to hydroponic tomato vines. RBI has worked in both industries for a number of years. A team of crop scientists, engineers, growers and beer enthusiasts from RBI took what they know about the two plants and successfully designed a controlled environment that allowed hops to grow and flower after three months. The team grew give different hops rhizome varieties and tested different nutrient and lighting combinations to ensure the best rate of growth.
The HopsHouse is offered in two different sizes: 30 foot x 60 foot, starting at $119,495 and 30 foot x 180 foot starting at $149,495. Pricing includes necessary systems and equipment. Options to customize are available.
The overall beer market is a $107.6 billion industry, according to the Brewers Association, with small and craft breweries contributing $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy. With Anheuser-Bush’s acquisition of SAB Miller International, which includes SAB Hop Farms located in South Africa, craft breweries have seen their supply completely cut off. The introduction of HopsHouse will allow breweries and growers to be more independent. A study by Hop Growers of America reported that nearly 90 million pounds of hops were harvested in 2016.