State-of-the-Art Pellet Mill Comes On-Line for Craft Brewers

Stairway to Hops Heaven
Indie Hops' new pellet mill ready for "blast off" in the heart of Oregon's hop country.

April 21, 2010. The tedious process of conceptualizing, testing, engineering, constructing, and operating the country’s newest hop pellet milling facility is complete.  On March 16th, we began bumping motors and customizing control programs at our facility in Hubbard, Oregon.  One week later we began small production runs of different varieties, learning the idiosyncrasies of each and fine-tuning the settings.

The significance of this new mill is not that it’s the newest mill in the country.  Rather, the Indie Hops pellet mill is unique in that it raises the bar on hop pellet quality by lowering the temperature that the pellets reach as they press through the pellet die.  Our temperatures average less than 110 degrees -- a full 20 degrees lower than current industry averages.  Lower temperatures mean better preservation of the essential oils that lend hop aroma and flavor to beer.

This quality breakthrough in pellet milling is especially significant for the following reasons:

  1. Our facility is the first hops pellet mill located in the Willamette Valley, where the growing environment favors hop varieties prized for their aroma and flavor characteristics.  Century Hop Farms here are second to none in the growing and handling of precious aroma hops.
  2. Indie Hops is dedicated to the craft brewing industry.  Having our facility in the heart of Oregon hop country positions us to process traditional aroma varieties and coveted dual-purpose varieties very close to harvest.  We can lock in the just-harvested freshness of premium quality hops, without waiting for super-alpha varieties to have their alpha levels preserved.

  3. We are just up the road from Oregon State University and the world-class hops research scientists located there.  Many of you have heard of our investment in hops research and breeding at OSU.  With leading hop scientists, hop growers, and craft brewers all in close proximity, it’s a good bet that we can orchestrate a platform on which exciting new hops discoveries will be based.

At What Price?

Talk of quality over quantity and significant investments in research and “state-of-the-art” facilities naturally makes potential customers brace for the price tag on these hops.  While we strive to provide you with the highest quality ingredients for your beer, we intend to do so at competitive prices and with a flexible two-year contract option we believe you will find compelling. 

First, we start with a base wholesale for non-contract sales of $9.75/lb.  Prices go down from there.  We won’t quote you a higher price because one day you might sound desperate.  After all, do you size up how thirsty your customers are for a beer, and then quote the highest price you think you can get? 

Please click here to learn more about our pricing and flexible contract options and pellet availability.  Or better yet, come visit us in Portland and check out this hop scene yourself.  We're proud of our "patient" pelleting mill, and want you to see it in person. 


Jim Solberg
CEO, Indie Hops LLC


Hop Oils are a Terrible Thing to Waste: keep 'em cool!

“There is published evidence that hops should not be pelletized at temperatures in excess of 55°C (131°F). The process of milling and pelletizing hop cones dramatically increases the rate of hop acid and oil oxidation.  When the processing temperature is lowered, the quality of the essential oils in the pellet are better preserved and closer to that of an unpelletized hop, which from an aroma perspective is a good thing for a brewer.”

--Tom Shellhammer, Ph.D., Nor'Wester Professor of Fermentation Science, Oregon State University


Cool, Clean and Compact: Scaled for Craft

“Indie Hop’s pellet mill is compact, sleek and still has that “new car smell”.  We liked the pellets it produced, even in its start up phase, the cool temperatures seem to be the minimum you could find where pellet stability is still possible.  Definitely the “coolest pellet mill in the Northwest.'"

--Karl Ockert, Brewmaster, BridgePort Brewing Co.



Indie Hops puts new plant to work with tip toward craft brewers
By John Foyston, Special to The Oregonian , April 28, 2010

 "It's fantastic to support a company passionate about craft beer, and Indie hops has been a breeze to deal with," he said. "I simply call or e-mail Jim, and I have hops within a couple days. Their packaging is solid, vacuumed sealed and fresh." Nick Arzner, Block 15 Brewery
  BLOGS for the Indie Hops Pelletizing Plant

Indie Hops comes to a brewer near you
Draft Magazine Feed, April 29, 2010

Oregon Emerging as Premium Hops Producer
Beervana, The Blog,  April 29, 2010

Beeronomics: External Economies of Scale
The Oregon Economics Blog, April 29, 2010

Green Speed

Patient, but Prompt
In less than 20 minutes from breaking up the fresh hop bales, we have the pellets cooled to ambient temperature.  Nitrogen flush vacuum packing follows, then immediate storage in the freezer.

Jim at Controls
Steady as She Goes
Jim Solberg, our fearless leader, architect and operator of the all-important broom handle, dialing in the speed and volume.

104 temp
Officer, How Cool Did You Say Those Pellets Were? 
The holy grail of hop pelleting is to convert the form of the whole cone without sacrificing essential oils and acids. Heat, in a word, kills. The industry standard hovers around 130F. We’ve clocked our hops at the pellet die consistently at or under 110F.

Freshness Never Smelled So Hoppy!
Final pellets ready for an inert environment and 26F storage
          until it's their turn to show off at your local brewery  

Hoppy Papa! 
Worthington beaming with a fresh box of Indie Hops Cascade pellets, which he boxed himself. “I haven’t had this much fun since I made a puppy out of play-dough!”


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