WELD COUNTY, Colo. - Drinking one of Colorado's many brews is an experience on its own. But whether you're enjoying a game, socializing with friends or just relaxing at home, Colorado brewers, and farmers strive day-to-day to improve the product and give customers a better experience.
“Our product is definitely unique and so, until a greenhouse like this came along, we were really stuck with what was in the soil which was climate-provided,” said Colin Clark of Hydro Hop Farms. “We can grow German varieties here, we can grow New Zealand varieties here, just by changing the climate and the nutrient profile."
At the Hydro Hop Farms, farmers control temperature, humidity, PH, nutrients and the water -- using less of it and greatly improving quality and quantity of the crop. They grow their hops by a method called hydroponics. That means there is no soil used, and the hops are spoon fed nutrients through a water drip system.
This farm is the only one of its kind in the world, yielding ten times as much hops as traditional farming. The flavor and freshness are new to Colorado brewers.
And as the beer industry grows, hydroponic hops are an easy answer because it does not have limits yet.
"You can use less [sic] hops in a brew and get bigger flavors out of it," said Clark.
City Star Brewing in Berthoud, is the first to ever brew solely with hydroponic hops. More than 30 pounds of freshly harvested Columbus and Centennial hydroponic hops were used to make a 7 barrel brew called 'Hydro-Pony Express'. The hops were harvested, delivered, and brewed all within eight hours -- brewers now have a better chance of offering something unique.
"You just get these different flavors, with their grassy notes, and the real freshness from the hops," said John Way, Head Brewer at City Star Brewing.
Hydro Hop is definitely growing. Clark said they plan to expand their Pierce greenhouse next year.
"The bigger cones with more of the oils, that's what the brewers are looking for," Clark said.