Gorst Valley Hops

CrushBrew.com profiles Gorst Valley Hops

One of the most innovative companies in the brewing industry is Gorst Valley. Dedicated to growing and providing high quality hops, Gorst Valley Hops is going for the gold in communicating with and educating Wisconsin farmers on every aspect of hops growing, and working to supply Wisconsin area brewers with locally grown, diverse hops.

While Gorst Valley is going a long way toward filling the need for small-farm hops production, a century ago, such production was commonplace. In fact, Wisconsin produced 1/5th of the world’s hops, but due to non-sustainable farming and a lack of hops knowledge, regional small hops farms all but disappeared.

Gorst Valley Hops is committed to change all that, working with both growers and brewers to consult and grow. Today, renowned brewers such as Potosi, Vintage, Lakefront, Wisconsin, South Shore, Begyle, and New Glarus all use Gorst Valley hops. And that’s just the start.

The goal? To make small-scale hop cultivation into a big and serious business. Much as small craft brewers have developed innovative, small-scale beer making into a business model, Gorst Valley Hops’ owners aim to take the same steps toward what is essentially craft hop-growing. Begun in 2008, Gorst Valley was manufacturing and shipping small-scale hop harvesters called the Bine 360 by 2012. Farmers growing ten acres of hops or less were now able to harvest effectively. Before the Bine 360, most hop farmers growing under 50 acres were stuck harvesting by hand, with the cost of large-scale machinery far too high for small growers.

The machine took two years to develop, and it costs less than 1/10th the amount of large scale hops harvesters. With the machines available, productivity increased exponentially for small farmers. How much so? The average small grower increased productivity from harvesting two hop vines – called bines – in an hour, to up to 60 bines per hour. The Bine 360 was made by Bine Implement, an equipment manufacturing company under the Gorst Valley umbrella, which focuses on creating and manufacturing small farm equipment for high-end crops such as hops. Along with selling the machine, Gorst offers the plans to build it online, all to make small-farm hop growing more attractive.

Along with helping growers, the machines themselves are just one part of the Gorst Valley plan to make local hops more accessible and affordable to brewers and provide them with unique flavors. In the Wisconsin area, the increase in small hops production means brewers can go local all the way.

Along with the Bine 360, Gorst Valley also offers educational programs for growers, consultation on field and trellis design, hop drying, hop processing, and brewing. They run a Charter Grower Program, which provides a long-term partner relationship with growers. And Gorst Valley also offers greenhouse hop plants for sale to assure top quality for growers, as well as their AromaSmart hop processing.

All in all, Gorst Valley has succeeded in introducing viable hops-growing techniques for small farmers, many of whom are now expanding their operations due to Gorst Valley’s support and equipment. The company has not only provided necessary assistance to growers; they’ve helped to provide high-quality hops to make high-quality brews. That’s good for beer makers, and for beer drinkers – now that’s innovation.

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