UK: Growing hop hydroponically for local beer

An innovative businessman has converted a disused Lampeter warehouse into a hydroponic hop farm to help meet the demand of the recent boom in craft beer across the country.

At one point, the average homebrewer was faced with a limited choice of hops as craft and commercial breweries were first in line to claim the pick of the lot. One beer lover decided to do something about it. But not in the way you would expect.

Traditionally, hops are grown in fields, taking up vast areas of land. Gareth Davies, founder and director of Dark Farm, grows his hops in pots, indoors, using hydroponic growing methods - normally used for crops like salad leaves and herbs rather than a plant that can reach 7.5m (25ft) in height. 

Believed to be first indoor hop yard in whole UK, Dark Farm offers a quarterly hop subscription to homebrewers, and have recently relocated to a disused warehouse near Lampeter. They are out to prove that the benefits of hydroponics can revolutionise hop farming.

"Growing hops in a controlled environment and adjusting the nutrient feed according to their growing cycle saves a great deal of water," says Gareth. Dark Farm currently have around 400 hop plants, made up of 12 different varieties.  

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