Hops Envy growing Nevada’s future
Northern Nevada over the past month alone has seen Capital City Brewfest in Carson, Reno Craft Beer Week in May and events such as Strange Brew Festival at the Brewer’s Cabinet. At least 15 breweries call the northern Nevada region home. In Reno, nearly 20 percent of beer sold in stores is craft beer, according to the Nevada Craft Brewers Association. The Association lists Nevada’s economic impact for craft beer sales to be $480 million for 2014.
Northern Nevada is riding the nationwide trend of craft beer and adopting the industry that goes with it, which now represents 12 percent of the total beer market according to the Brewers Association. Nevada brewers make 64,901 barrels of craft beer a year and they need hops to do it.
Hops come from all over and fluctuate in price, as do many crops. Hops can sell from $10 to $20 per pound dry, and $2 to $5 dollars wet, explained Elysa and Chad Kleidosty, owners of Hops Envy, which is in its second year of growing hops. Elysa and Chad are pioneers in northern Nevada commercial hops production. Hops Envy is a 1.06-acre farm site situated on a five-acre property in Garnerville.
“We planted seedlings last summer,” Elysa said. “We didn’t string them on the trellises last year, they weren’t big enough, but that is what we are focusing on this year.”
The Kleidostys currently grow four different locally grown hop varieties and are committed to growing their hops organically.
“We have interest from several local breweries and home brewers have approached us as well,” Elysa said. “We are set up to be able to offer fresh wet hops.”
“In the future we hope to be able to pelletize so that we can be more marketable and offer more product and for a longer period of time so they can use our hops through the entire brewing process,” Elysa explained.
Hops, like many other crops, are being sought after from local sources. Craft brewers want to know where the hops came from.
We are “fostering that locally grown farm-to-glass sort of thing,” Elysa said. “We are huge on the story behind the picture,” Chad added.
Northern Nevada has a lot of small experimental hop yards but Hop Envy stands alone in the size of their farm and for commercial use of hops.
When people think of northern Nevada, hops certainly are not the first crop that comes to mind.
“Nevada just hasn’t really caught up to realize that in some sub-climates, like Gardnerville, it actually is really suitable, especially the cascade variety. That is our workhorse right now,” Chad said.
But that conducive sub-climate isn’t all good. “The wind down in the Carson Valley is one of our biggest adversaries,” Elysa said.
An acre of hops takes about $20,000 to start, but Elysa and Chad were able to start their hop venture for less.
They used personal funds to put up about half of the initial cost to establish the hop farm and were able to get a small loan through a farm service agency to get Hops Envy started.
They don’t rely solely on the yield of the hops, however. The hop farm caters to agricultural tourism and hops are a unique crop that people are interested in.
Chad and Elysa both still work full time and maintain the farm every moment they can. To help increase their marketing as well as bring in revenue they host events, such as Hotter than Hops, on their farm. Rather then hosting a beer festival in a casino, or on a street or parking lot they offer craft beer events on an actual hop farm. Chad and Elysa like that they can actually share the farm with people.
So, how did it all get started?
As part of his bachelor of science in agricultural science and minor in business administration, Chad had been working on business plans and exploring how to take a hop farm, which normally requires a great deal of acreage to be lucrative, and turn it into a successful business venture, but on a small scale. As the Kleidostys looked at everything, they realized it might actually be possible. Elysa found the parcel of land the farm is on through a connection at her job and the pieces continued to fall into place until Hops Envy was a reality.
“We registered our name in 2014,” Chad said.
They should be able to harvest this year. It takes three to four years for hops to reach their full maturity of production. They are at year two, which means they could reach up to 50 percent but they indicated that to be a lofty goal for this harvest.
Being smaller, they are able to hand harvest and have a couple harvests throughout the summer and fall rather than a one-chop harvest like a bigger operation would.
They hope their harvest this year is big enough for one or two breweries, or to allow for collaboration among breweries and actually get the hops into a beer.
Hops Envy is excited to share what hops they yield and don’t want to limit the crop to one specific brewery. Chad and Elysa have talked that maybe down the road they would look at contracting to guarantee a brewery product as well as the sale of their product but for now they don’t see any of their product going to waste.
“Guarantee that what we put out will already be gone, contract or not, whatever we do have remaining we use for ourselves to market,” Chad said. “There is a market for every part of the plant,” he added.
To learn more about Hops Envy, or buy to tickets for their upcoming Hotter than Hops event on the farm, visit http://www.hopsenvy.com.
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