A New hops industry for Southland has received a boost with a $2.5 million government loan.
Garston Hops has been offered the commercial rates loan from the Government’s Regional Strategic Partnership Fund, administered by Kānoa, to build a processing plant facility where Garston Hops as well as other farmers can process their hops, creating a southern hops hub.
Gaston Hops co-owner James McNamee is excited at the opportunity.
“This means we can build a Southland story around our hops. Other farmers can grow hops, and local craft brewers can make distinctive Southland beer. “
As fifth generation farmers, the project started when they were looking at opportunities to diversify the farm create additional farm revenue in a sustainable way and contribute to the local community.
“We found that hops in the northern hemisphere grow on the same latitude north as what we are in Garston.”
After planting their first hops during a snowstorm in 2016, the hops were brewed by Altitude Brewing, who discovered they had a unique flavour profile because of their particular growing location, described as “punchier” and “citrusier”, McNamee said.
“Our flavour is unique and in demand but there are no scalable local processing facilities. At the moment Southlands hops are harvested and processed in Garston and then shipped to Nelson for pelletising which adds additional cost to the final product.”
One of the other main ingredients in beer is barley, a crop that is commonly grown in Southland, creating further crop opportunities for the region.
“Hopefully this will draw more people to the area and create jobs”, says McNamee.
NZ is the 10th largest producer of hops globally, accounting for 0.61% of global hop production.
Great South supported Garston Hops with their business case development and the fund application.
Great South Chief Executive Chami Abeysinghe said hops were an ideal new industry for Southland.
“We’re very focussed on supporting sustainable industries and hops fit well with that, being a high value, low weight export product and being right next to the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail, there will also be great spin-off tourism opportunities.”