Glasshouse-grown hops can "revolutionise" production, says US researcher

A US academic is pioneering the indoor hydroponic growing of hops, which he says gives craft brewers a uniform premium product throughout the year.

Bauerle - image: CSU
Bauerle - image: CSU

Bill Bauerle, professor of horticulture and landscape architecture at Colorado State University, is able to harvest five crops of hops a year in a glasshouse at the university's Horticulture Center, and claims yields ten times higher per m2 than in open-field growing.

"This allows brewers to make wet-hop beers five times a year, whereas the harvest normally only occurred once a year," Bauerle said. "Local brewers want a quality, local product, so that was another driving factor."

Colorado claims to be "the state of craft beer", with over 300 breweries.

The crops "are reproducible to the exact flavour profiles brewers want", Bauerle explained. "If you grow them in the field and you have variable weather, that will change those profiles even from farm to farm. We know to within a week when we will harvest them, so the brewer can schedule their production to when they have the ingredients available."

The project is a collaborative partnership with Philips Lighting, which provides the LED interlighting units, and Bauerle is now working with graduate students to test how this affects the yield and the flavour profile of the hops.

"I'm going to work on this for the remainder of my career to revolutionise hop production. We're looking for funding to do that," Bauerle added.

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