Round Table Hops began in the deep rooted belief that there is always a better way to do something. We believe that we as a society have an obligation to not only be our best, but work towards being better. This is a concept deeply entrenched in local craft beer and is why we love it so much.
With a desire to support and strengthen this industry, we couldn't ignore some of the issues facing craft beer, and specifically the hop industry. Things need to change, and we're here to change them.
We began to discuss the possibility of hydroponic hops over 3 year ago. The first question we asked is, “has anybody tried this before?” So we did what you should do with any new idea; we began talking with people. We talked with researchers, farmers, brewers, and drinkers. Basically anyone that would hear us out. The vast majority of the people we met expressed skepticism or outright doubt. Despite the lack of support we received initially, we couldn't find anyone who had actually tried it. So we decided that their theory that it wouldn't work was no better or worse than our theory that it would. We threw caution to the wind and decided to prove or disprove it the only way we knew how: hard work.
We spent the next 2 years designing, redesigning, re-redesigning and finally building a prototype greenhouse. In defiance of our full time jobs and lack of funding, we picked up our hammers and got to work.
We spent so much time there that it doubled as our own private little bed and breakfast.
On November 10th of that year we put the finishing touches on the greenhouse. That night we got a foot of snow. We consider this to be the point of realization- this was going to work. The fact that we broke ground in April, worked every spare moment for 8 months, and finished 4 hours before the first and biggest snowfall of the year was just too big of a coincidence.
Over the winter we put our greenhouse to work and on April 27th 2015, we harvested the worlds first off-season hops. It was the proudest moment of our lives. We had done the impossible.
We can tell you today that hydroponic hops are possible and we want you to join us in bringing those hops to your favorite brew.
Together, we can build this into a movement that will change craft beer forever. Thank you so much for all your support. Not only could we not do this without you, but we wouldn't WANT to do it without you.
Ben, Erin, Mike & Ted
As one of 4 key ingredients, hops have a massive impact on beer. They contain oils and acids that impart flavor and aroma. Beer as we know it cannot exist without hops. As important as hops are, a hop cone is a very fragile thing.
What's the biggest destroyer of hops?
Hops are harvested once a year. And just like a banana sitting out on the counter, they decay over time. That means they have to be dried and frozen so they don’t spoil. But even with proper storage, some hops loose 50% of their quality in just 6 months.
But we grow our hops indoors!
This means we can harvest our hops precisely when the brewer needs them. This ensures the freshest, highest quality hops for each and every beer you drink.
Also, did you know that 'local' beers aren't brewed with local ingredients?
99.9% of hops in the US are grown in the Pacific Northwest.
That's why Round Table Hops will strictly sell to breweries in our surrounding area. Wouldn't we all prefer local beers be made with local ingredients?
A Hop Shortage
With the explosion of craft breweries, the hop industry has struggled to keep up. There simply aren’t enough. Hops are only harvested once a year. By moving indoors and harvesting 3 times a year, we can greatly increase the efficiency of a hop yard. In a 4-season greenhouse, we are able to surpass traditional yields by 30 times. This means we could supply every Minnesota Brewery in just 15 acres of greenhouse space. It would take 450+ acres of traditional farming to achieve the same quantity.
A Sustainable Future
With traditional hop farms using up to 3 million gallons of water a day and 15 or more applications of pesticides annually, it’s easy to see the need for more sustainable technology. Our system gathers rain water and feeds it to the plants along with the nutrients they need to thrive. Any water that isn’t used by the plant is recycled back into the system and recaptured. This means 100% of the water we use gets absorbed by the plants. Growing indoors also allows us to have much greater control over the pests and diseases entering our greenhouse. In 2 harvests we’ve not used a single pesticide.
Our Next Steps:
With 3 years of research and development under our belt, Round Table Hops is ready to move into commercial production. We are building a 3 acre greenhouse in Hugo, MN starting in the Spring of 2016.
Minnesota breweries will use 1 million pounds of hops this year and Minnesota hop farms will only provide 20,000 pounds. Our 3 acre greenhouse will be able to produce 200,000 pounds each year with room to expand. This facility will be complete with a processing, packaging, and distribution center on site to further ensure that our hops are of the highest quality.
We have already built relationships with breweries wanting to use our hops. Some include Big Wood Brewery, Hammerheart Brewing, Day Block Brewing, Excelsior Brewing, Burning Bros, and Insight Brewing.
“If you can supply enough hops, I don't know why we wouldn't buy exclusively from you.” - Austin Lunn head brewer, Hammerheart Brewing
Where is the money going?
We are so close. We have two incredibly telling harvests under our belts as proof of how amazing our system works. Now it is time to move forward so that we can provide craft beer drinkers the hops that they deserve.
We have come this far with personal investments but the scope of this project is beyond what we can afford. We have larger investors eager to jump on board but first they want to see more progress. We need a designer to help design the new greenhouse as well as the resources to power and maintain our current greenhouse throughout the cold winter in Minnesota. The money we hope to raise on Kickstarter will go towards closing the gap on our start-up needs and help propel us into larger investor agreements.
Without you, the steps towards a commercial greenhouse mean nothing. This is about you, this is about changing the way we enjoy beer, and it’s time to #PullUpAChair.
This is our way of saying thank you for all your support. We are very excited about our rewards. They provide us with a way to show our gratitude and they provide you with a way to be a part of this revolution.
We could not have made such an amazing video alone.
Risks and challenges
Our project has increased in momentum rapidly over the last year and we have proven a lot. But we are not out of the woods yet. This is a complex project that is not without it’s risks and challenges.
We are taking a very old industry and flipping it on it’s head and that is never easy. We have a lot to prove in the eyes of breweries. They stake their reputation on their beers and they demand proof of the quality and consistency of our hops. The transition from a small pilot greenhouse to a 3-acre greenhouse will not be an easy one. That being said, we have spent the last 3 years identifying potential problems and developing solutions ahead of time. So far we have not come across anything that our team couldn’t handle.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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