Rough Brothers, Inc. (RBI) recently introduced its new HopsHouse, a single-solutions greenhouse designed to optimize hops yields through integrated systems and precision farming. It is the first single-solution hydroponic greenhouse for year-round hops growth, and harvests anywhere from two to five times a year.
HopsHouse will provide growers and breweries a competitive advantage: supplying a fresher and more local product straight from the vine to the brewery.
Hops are a relative to cannabis and are grown similarly to hydroponic tomato vines, according to the company, and RBI has worked in both industries for a number of years. A team of crop scientists, engineers, growers, and beer enthusiasts from RBI took what they know about the two plants and successfully designed a controlled environment that allowed hops to grow and flower after three months. The team grew five different hops rhizome varieties, and tested different nutrient and lighting combinations to ensure the best rate of growth.
The HopsHouse is offered in two different sizes: 30 feet by 60 feet, and 30 feet by 180 feet. Options to customize are available.
“The craft beer industry is growing. We saw an opportunity and we are running with it,” says Tom Vezdos, RBI Vice President and Divisional Manager of Commercial Greenhouses. “The introduction of HopsHouse allows breweries and growers to be more independent. No longer will breweries and growers be at the mercy of big beer conglomerates or inclement weather.”
The overall beer market is a $107.6 billion industry, according to the Brewers Association for National Beer Stats, with small and craft breweries contributing $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy. With Anheuser-Bush’s acquisition of SAB Miller International, which includes SAB Hop Farms located in South Africa, craft breweries have seen their supply completely cut off.
The introduction of HopsHouse will allow breweries and growers to be more independent. A study by Hops Growers of America reported that nearly 90 million pounds of hops were harvested in 2016.