MANAGEMENT TEAM: The management team at Sugar Creek Hops, LLC, includes (from left) Spencer Gray, president; Alex Gray, vice president; Matt Baxter, director of operations; and Dustin Gray, farm manager. Submitted photo
Thorntown’s Sugar Creek Hops will be opening a hops processing facility this August. It will be the first facility of its kind outside the traditional hops growing regions in the country.
Spencer Gray is the president of the family owned and operated farm.
“We’ve been open for business for little over a year now, growing hops,” Gray said. “We’ve found there is a high demand for hops all over the world. Things have been picking up for us dramatically in the past few months.”
The family decided they could supply more hops if they had their own processing facility. The new facility will include a custom engineered pellet mill designed specifically for the purpose of processing hops in a way that preserves volatile acids and essential oils that are the key components in adding bitterness, aroma and flavor to beer.
With the way the craft beer industry is growing, the need for hops is growing at a record pace.
“Craft brewers use 70 times the hops that like a Budweiser would use,” Gray said. “We have been supplying hops for breweries in Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. Now we are working with brewers in California, Hawaii, Alaska and Central America.”
Sugar Creek Hops currently works with over 150 breweries located throughout the United States and abroad, and has experienced double-digit growth since opening their distribution facility last spring.
Gray said being centrally located in the country makes their product less expensive to their customers.
“Most growers are in Washington or Oregon,” he said. “So if a brewery is on the East Coast, it is so much cheaper for them on shipping just because of our proximity.”
Sugar Creek Hops is a family farm in Thorntown, just under 2,000 acres, where Old Indiana used to be.
Gray said more hops farmers have been emerging in new regions including the Midwest, but there has been a critical lack in processing infrastructure.
“The new processing capabilities at Sugar Creek Hops will facilitate the continued growth of these new farms, and will lead to a more sustainable supply chain for brewers,” he said.