Hops Industry Budding in Colo.
KREX News Room
PAONIA, Colo. Colorado is already on the map for its microbreweries and is now becoming known for its high-quality hops.
The Latin name for hops is Humulus lupulus, meaning the wolf among sheep. "Originally named in Germany. The hops were growing so vigorously they were overtaking a stand of birch trees. And they do grow crazy, this time of year they'll grow six to eight inches a day!" said Ron Godin, soil scientist and agronomist at Colorado State University in Delta.
While Paonia farmer David Warren wasn't aware of the Latin meaning of hops, he certainly knows how to grow them.
"I've grown herbs I've grown vegetables, I had never grown hops before, it's such an amazing plant to grow," said Warren.
Warren is one of the first commercial hops growers in the state, the budding industry took off just a few years ago.
"From the time the plants emerge from the ground in the spring, they can grow to 18 feet or higher, within three months. There's such a big demand in Colorado that we can't even begin to supply the amount of hops that just the Colorado brewers could use from us," said Warren.
Godin helped spearhead the hops industry in the state.
"In 2008 there was a hop crisis, there was a shortage where the prices just went sky high, and a lot of the small craft brewers couldn't get the hops. So that kind of started us going," said Godin.
He's guided farmers like Warren to produce some of the highest-quality hops around.
"Growing on a small-scale like this you have the ability to really take care of things better, and to grow healthier plants, the quality is unsurpassed really," said Warren.
"Long-term we could be really well-known for our hops. If it keeps growing, I think we'll still continue to get support from Colorado brewers," said Godin.
Brewers like Michael King. His brewery is just down the street from the hops farm.
"Short of having our own hops field, I think we have about the freshest hops you can get," said King.
His microbrewery is just one of dozens in the state.
"Colorado, it's an epicenter for beer in the United States, and even globally its begun to be recognized," said King.
The combination of microbreweries plus high-quality hops continue to put Colorado on the map.
"Brewers are real interested in having Colorado hops in their beer and so are the consumers, I think it's only going to grow," Godin said.
While the Colorado hops industry is still very young it is on its way to becoming its own wolf among sheep.
"I think I found my niche for growing!" said Warren.
A survey done through CSU revealed that 80 percent of brewers said they would by Colorado hops if they were available. They also said they would be willing to pay a premium price.