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Going Dormant


In every art, there’s a little ick.

Trub is the gunk left at the bottom of the fermenter. It’s the gross but totally necessary byproduct of brewing. Hop farming, we’ve found, has its own trub.

Putting in the poles, 2012

Putting in the poles, 2012

Harbor Hops was launched five years ago with a party. Friends and family came up to our 10-acre stretch of land and helped us drive fifty cedar poles four feet into the ground. It was an awesome day.

We decided to start Harbor Hops because Duluth’s craft beer scene was booming and we were looking for a way to simplify our two working parent situation. Back then, we were one of only a handful of hop farms in Minnesota.

Throughout the years, we've had some fantastic, better than expected harvests. And support from the brewing community has been consistent and encouraging. We had a blast.

But… here’s the trub: Hop farming doesn’t share very well. It wants to be the center of attention from June through harvest. That means Ryan missed five year’s worth of other things– like vacations, kids’ soccer games, and beers on the porch with the neighbors. The hops started to lose their luster.

Call it an evolution of in priorities, but this season we’re going dormant.

As we step away from the operation, we really want to thank you for all your support. We are so appreciative of your encouragement in person and online, and especially for your interest in what we were doing. It’s been so fun sharing our story with you.

We would be remiss without giving a special shout out to a few of the other folks who made Harbor Hops possible:

Ryan’s brother Tyler was the ignition and the gas. He came up from the Twin Cities every single harvest (and brought a great crew!) to help pick hops. He seriously is the best. Thanks, Tyler!

Born ready– Ryan and Tyler

Born ready– Ryan and Tyler

Our buddy Tom was also there for every harvest– especially impressive because he helped on top of his own exhausting schedule. Bonus points to Tom for helping Ryan stir fish fertilizer. Sorry you puked, dude!

Friends that mix fish guts together, stay together.

Friends that mix fish guts together, stay together.

Dave Hoops and Frank Kaszuba, two legends among brewers, met with us early on and gave us invaluable advice. Frank also generously used our hops in his delicious fresh hop session ale last year. Taking a sip was one of our proudest moments!

Kelly and Katie at Duluth Homebrew Supply are such strong supporters of the local beer scene. Thanks, you two, for buying our hops and rhizomes every year. You were our first sale!

Dave and The Duluth Experience team also rock. Thanks for hauling your tour groups all the way up to Two Harbors.

In addition, to our friends and family who said, “Hell yes!” when we ran the idea of hop farming by them– thank you! It was a crazy idea and you gave us a lot of courage.


With that, we move on, and look forward to watching a new generation of hop farmers emerge. It's a good life.


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