The NorCal HGA is made up of several members who have a rich family history of farming in Sonoma County. We are botanists, ecologists, permaculture specialists, chemists, craft brewers, entrepreneurs, educators, and farmers. We teamed up with the University of California Cooperative Extension to provide ongoing research-based education and resources for the hop growing community. We develop relationships with leaders in the craft brewing industry in order to create a unique market where craft beer also means craft ingredients.
NorCal HGA member, Warm Spring Wind Farm, offers courses on growing hops and can provide over-the-phone and onsite consulting services. Becoming a Farmer Member grants you free access to consulting services and specialty courses provided by the NorCal HGA.
We strive to provide quality ingredients for quality beer. We believe that our local hops can provide flavors and aromas unique to Northern California. Alpha and beta acid levels are important for batch consistency and we have been developing a relationship with Sonoma State University's Chemistry Department to create a program for analyzing local hops and providing growers and brewers with specific data on relative quality. Farmer members will have the opportunity to have their hops analyzed locally and receive comparative data from other member farms.
With Sonoma and Napa Counties' deep appreciation for wine, we believe the average local craft beer consumer is primed for the next level of craft beer appreciation. Several breweries have begun to grow their own hops and grain, and others have begun sourcing ingredients from single hop yards within a given growing region. We are working with local breweries to build a new dimension of beer tasting. The idea that we can taste where a beer comes from, based on the ingredients, can help the local craft beer industry continue its proliferative growth.
Really, what we're building is a community; a community of people who love craft beer. Whether you are a home brewer or represent a world class brewery, you get excited about unique ingredients. All members will get access to an online forum where we can pose questions and discuss creative solutions. All members get a discount on merchandise. We want everyone to try growing hops, even it's just one plant in your backyard. Being around Humulus lupulus, is enchanting. As our community grows we will have access to local rhizomes for propagation. We hope to broaden our relationship with local academic institutions to bring new research on growing methods, and build a local hop breeding program. If you love craft beer we hope you will join our community. Together we can bring hops back to Northern California.
We are building a network of relationships between growers and brewers. Many of our members grow the ingredients that go into their own craft beer. Many members have been working in the beer industry for several decades. By joining the NorCal HGA you are gaining access to several potential clients and sharing in the brand that we are building. Together, farmers have the ability to fulfill larger or unique orders for hops, and brewers have preferred access to fresh hops at harvest time. It's a win-win for craft beer.
Efficiency is key in small-scale farming success. Many of the infrastructure start-up costs of building a hop yard can be reduced by group purchasing of bulk items or sharing in the investment in expensive equipment.
The biggest challenge in efficiency for small scale hop growing is harvest. Hand labor is cost-prohibitive and affects the freshness of the product. We have purchased a hop harvester that will reside at a centralized location and be available to farmer members during harvest season.
We are working on building a tool library that will be available to farmer members to borrow to make it easier to build new trellises, maintain hop yards, and help with harvest.