A fresh hop beer in spring? Yes it’s possible says the foursome that is Round Table Hops. The vision was laid out 3 years ago and with a little help from Kickstarter, they hope to realize the potential of locally grown hops. Ben Vaughn is the “jack of all trades” guy and started out as a home brewer with the dream of opening his own taproom. He, Ted Reeck (CFO), Erin Kayser (Environmentalist), and Mike Michurski spent two years meeting about the possibilities only to find that no one thought this would work, yet none of these people had tried either.
So they went to work. “I drafted up some plans and got a Menards card. “We were working 40 hours a week” says Vaughn. The concrete was poured and they had their first $14,000 greenhouse. They brought in Mike who had experience working a CSA farm and had a background in hydroponics. They started the plants and were amazed at how quickly they were producing hops. “The plants speak up right away” says Vaughn. “We harvested some Cascades in 11 weeks which is much faster than in soil. We literally watched them grow.”
So will this work? The answer is yes, they sent hops off to Michigan to test the acidity levels which were great. It normally takes 2-3 years in soil to get a decent crop. Big Wood Brewing in White Bear Lake worked with the hops and concocted a fresh hop beer in April. It turned out even better than they expected and now they hope to work with other breweries.
“In 3 years we are hoping that breweries are willing to get out of their hop contracts and work with us exclusively” according to Vaughn. “There are approximately 46,000 acres of hops in this country. Let’s deconstruct this faceless industry and turn it into a community.”
You can support their campaign until Sunday morning here.