Seventh-generation growers, Coleman Agriculture bring excellence and innovation to hop growing
The crops, farming methods, and equipment may have changed in the last 100+ years, but the pioneering spirit and work ethic remain deeply ingrained in their farming business today. The health of the land, quality of the product, and care for the people they serve are the guiding principles that drive the farm today and steer them towards bountiful harvests for generations to come.
When we first approached the Coleman family about growing hops for us in 2009, the hop outlook was bleak for Oregon growers. 75% of Oregon’s hop crop was in one variety—Willamette—and 99% of that was going to Anheuser-Busch. When Anheuser-Busch was purchased by InBev, they began halting grower contracts and the Colemans started to see their hop acres disappear. Our timing was good and our enthusiasm around the potential of growing hops for the craft brewing market held a hopeful ring. At the time, Coleman Agriculture’s hop acreage had shrunk to a mere 30% of what it had once been.
“Jim and Roger brought a different mindset to the hop industry. As traditional buyers were focusing on a few varieties, Indie Hop began to ask if we would be interested in expanding the varieties that we were growing, with an emphasis on catering to the craft brewing segment,” says Ben Coleman. “It has been great building this partnership from the ground up. The initial offer came at a crucial time for our farm, and it was different than what we were accustomed to. Indie Hops was willing to help us as growers carry the risk at the onset in order to establish new hop acreage, carve out their place in the craft beer market, and ultimately grow Indie Hops into the company it is today.”
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"Indie Hops has been an outstanding partner for Coleman Agriculture. The timing of Indie's entrance into the hop business in marketing existing varieties along with development of new hop cultivars has been extremely beneficial to the Colemans as well as the entire hop industry. We look forward to our continued partnership with Indie to provide high-quality, Oregon-grown hops worldwide!”
/ BEN COLEMAN, PRESIDENT & CO-OWNER @ COLEMAN AGRICULTURE
Thankfully, the craft beer market grew even more explosively than we had hoped. Our relationship grew as well, and we continued to join forces in new ways. The Coleman family have been key partners in our hop development efforts by caring for one of our Advanced Nurseries at their Alluvial Hop Farm—an important stage that brings us closer to deciding which new varieties are commercially viable. Working so closely with an experienced grower has given us an understanding of what makes a hop variety perform consistently on the farm year after year.
More than a dozen years later, we continue to expand acreage with the Colemans. And we are thankful for their willingness to take a chance on the craft brewing industry with us. They put action behind their motto “Cultivating the future.” It has been a joy to watch the continued focus the Colemans place on facilities improvement, such as major upgrades to their kilns and cooling rooms, plus an ongoing effort to learn more about in-field care of each variety they grow. In addition, when we encouraged them to pursue Salmon-Safe certification, they made the effort to certify as many acres as possible via the Salmon-Safe program, including the entirety of both Alluvial and Greenleaf Hop Farms.
In 2018, Coleman Agriculture and Oregon State University embarked on a first-of-its-kind hop terroir study. The study aimed to advance hop terroir knowledge by gathering data on soil, climate, and hop chemistry in three Willamette Valley microregions, as well as conducting sensory and brewing analyses. One of the goals of this study is to elevate the way hop growers achieve unique, high-quality yields while benefiting brewers in creating their best beers. We believe that continued terroir research will lead to even better hop quality and consistency.
The Colemans have been incredible farm partners, and we look forward to seeing our hop varieties thrive under the capable care of this tenacious family of growers!