Wet hop beers, by design, are limited to a short seasonal window in late summer or early fall, when hops are harvested. These hops are typically picked and shipped in the same day, allowing fresh, full-cone flowers to be used in the brew. But one enterprising beer lover is trying to change that with 24 Hour Hops, an indoor hop farm outside Maricopa, Az.
Greg Stelzer had the idea to start his own hydroponic hop farm after falling in love with wet hop beers, he told the Arizona Republic.
Hops are fickle mistresses, and like any relationship, they take work — a lot of it — to grow. Soil conditions, water, pests, and even hill height can make or break a bine. Hops grown indoors, on the other hand, can be controlled, and given the exact amount of light, water, and nutrients they need.
Stelzer began growing hops in his garage, then conducted trials at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Now, he runs his small business in a rented greenhouse space at the University of Arizona Maricopa Agricultural Center.
Scale limits sales to homebrewers, rather than professional breweries, but the practice is a growing interest among beer lovers and researchers.
Although he claims to be the only one growing hydroponic hops year-round, Stelzer isn’t the first to launch a hydroponic hops business. Hydro Hop Farms of Fort Collins, Col. had its first harvest in 2014; Round Table Hops launched in Forest Lake, Minn. in 2016; and also in 2016, Brooklyn’s Tinyfield Roofhop Farm became the first commercial rooftop hop farm.