Evaluating high altitude production of hops varieties and creating grower alliances to assist with production and marketing.
Abstract of project funded by Colorado Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant from 2016-2017:
At an altitude of 7600’, the Old Fort in Hesperus, Colorado established a ¼ acre hops yard with 11 varieties of hops now entering their fifth year of cone production. Establishing a hops yard requires significant investment and identifying hops that grow in a dry, high altitude environment is critical so the data collected at the Old Fort will provide the region with production and analyses information. Four bittering hop varieties (Chinook, CTZ, Galena, Nugget) and seven aroma varieties (Cascade, Centennial, Crystal, Mt Hood, Teamaker, Vanguard and Willamette) were established using disease free rhizomes.
In addition to variety trials, this project proposes to continue the highly successful Winter Workshop series, host a yearly Open House and share information on the Old Fort website (www.tinyurl.com/oldforthops) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/oldfortathesperus). New objectives include supporting formation of a grower’s cooperative; offering growing season tours to allow producers to interact and share their different solutions to infrastructure, handling and harvesting needs with both brewers and growers; developing protocol for testing and management of nutrients; and supporting craft brewers as they develop and market their local beers brewed with local hops.
Craft brewers and related hops industries are noting the increase in hops acreage and want to interact with and support local hop growers. Not only do
the Craft brewers want to purchase fresh, dried or pelletized hops, they want to be part of the industry’s growth. Their participation in the educational programming and the formation of a grower’s cooperative are key to its success.
Analyzing Hops Varieties for High Altitude Production and Alternative Marketing Schemes
Abstract of project funded by Colorado Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant from 2012-2015:
In 2011, there were 29,787 acres of hops in the Northwest and 120 in Colorado. With the growing trend of “going local”, users are looking for locally produced Colorado hops. This project will plant and scientifically evaluate 13 varieties at the Old Fort at Hesperus (7600’ elevation). It will collect and summarize growth, viability, nutrient, production and quality measures. Potential producers and consumers will participate in three hands-on field days during the season, two traditional winter workshops and two open house networking and marketing opportunities. All information from these educational opportunities will be made available at local extension offices, the Old Fort location and websites.
Preliminary surveys found eight commercial breweries and brew pubs within a 70 mile radius of Hesperus that support the purchase of local hops. However, their needs currently far exceed the region’s ability to produce and appropriately deliver the product in a pelletized form. This project will develop alternative markets that can utilize fresh whole cone and dried hops in small quantities that home and craft brewers pay significantly more for, and smaller producers can supply. It is this opportunity that can make small acreage hops yards economically viable in Southwest Colorado’s high altitude environment.