Without high quality standards, we have no local market. Consumers depend of local producers to provide high quality products that can’t be found in commercialized box stores. And they’re willing to pay a premium for that product. By not competing with existing products of lower quality but differentiating the product entirely on basis of higher quality standards, we can create a new product that enters the market in a niche of luxury and superior quality surrounded by cheap alternatives. Florida grown hops depends on a local market focused on delivering new experiences and new tastes by offering their clientele a high quality, locally grown product.
Let’s define quality. Quality is the degree of excellence of something. It is a measured standard against which we compare similar things. And it is critical in preserving and developing clientele constancy to perpetuate the life of an industry, business, or product. The consumer’s perception of quality is often tied to price. Products which are deemed to have higher quality or detailed workmanship, understandably have a higher price tag and can often be thought of as luxury or extravagance. These items are highly desired, but can be difficult to attain. Contrarily, products which are of lesser quality are cheap, easily accessible alternatives and typically thought of as discount or low-end. Higher degrees of quality can assist in creating a consistent generation of revenue, helping to achieve primary goal of businesses, profit.
This is true of hops. Where many factors will have influence over price, quality, and yield; hop quality is primarily based on alpha acid content which contributes to beer’s bitterness, the loss of those acids over time or Hop Storage Index (HSI), and oil content, which bestow fruit, floral, and candy like hop aromas to beers. Additional key components in high quality hops are based on sensory inspection. Freshly harvested hops should be vibrant green cones dry and papery to touch, edged with an ever so slight brown tinge, and dotted with cluster of bright yellow lupulin glands near the basal portions of bracts and highly concentrated at the interior of cones. Seeing a freshly harvested hop should put a smile on anyone’s face and while taking in the scent of hops should remind us of some of our most favorite beers. Testing their sensory qualities in field, the lupulin glands are crushed in what is called the Rub Test, causing them to release smooth and rich aromas. However, beyond initial inspection of hops, their influence upon clarity, color and preservation of beer cannot be minimized.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a desire to produce high quality product. They are willing to sacrifice their name for dollar and notoriety. Consumers will pay an initial premium for their product, expecting to support an organization focused on producing and providing their highest quality to the market. Yet they are sadly astonished at the old footy odor of oxidized cones. Practices that led to low quality do not help businesses or our industry. At a time when Florida grown hops are just emerging upon the market, we must be focused on ensuring we are delivering the highest quality possible. At no time should we offer our clientele the opportunity to buy discounted hops because we harvested the hops too late or offer them insect and disease damaged cones because of improper pest management controls. In this regard, we should not be surprised when crops are rejected or we lose clients to competition.
On one hop exchange site, there are hops harvested back in 2013 and 2014 selling for $2.00 a pound or less. While those hops will still make a bitter beer, their quality has suffered and are less attractive to potential buyers, making their home on the exchange site a bit more permanent than desired. Eventually, some brave or desperate brewer will purchase them, or better yet, the hops will be used as animal feed, or better yet still, chucked in the garbage. In this case, over production by the hopyard or over purchasing by the brewery in efforts to meet a poorly estimated demand caused a surplus in quantity, which hurts price and makes profit less obtainable. But as we move forward through the hop listings approaching our current year, we see an increase in price, mostly based on an increase in viridity or greenness and freshness. These prices continue to rise, even as we reach the more recently harvested and highly desired hop varieties, where they become luxury branded or affordable only to those willing to maintain high quality standards for their beer.
The birth of this industry requires an extreme desire to provide the highest quality locally grown brewing ingredients. Without that desire, we position ourselves to fail, as brewer after brewer deny purchase of our products. We must have passion and commitment towards higher quality, year after year, season after season. Producing high quality on a consistent basis requires training and by staying up to date with the latest methods of pre- and post-harvest production, we can guarantee distribution of a high quality product throughout the Southeastern United States and other hop starved regions of the world.
Florida Hops, LLC provides high quality products services to the industry, be it training sessions, crop testing or own fresh hops. Our team consists of experts in Florida hop production with many years devoted to research and development of the crop.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule training sessions for your production team.