Hop grower branches into brewery business
St. PAUL -- A small brewery is sprouting among the vines on one of the largest hop farms in Oregon.
Fifth generation hop farmer Austin Smith has partnered with friends Jace Kelly and Tyler Bothwell to form the Trellis Brewing Co., which sits adjacent to the family hop-processing facility on Horseshoe Lake Road west of town.
The company expects to open in the late fall, but must first clear a county permitting process and alter the facility to be in compliance with county regulations. A parking lot must be installed, among other requirements, before the business can open.
"We are still waiting on ADHA accessibility right now," Smith said. "This is an existing building and we went through and remodeled it not really thinking that we were really going to open it for the public. We are trying to go through county hoops right now."
The push toward opening will also suffer due to another, larger consideration.
"We are going to start harvest here in about 20 days and I am going to have to put it on the backburner," Smith said. "I run one of the night crews here on the farm. After harvest I will get on it and hopefully by the end of the fall it will be up and going. Hopefully we will be able to do tours of the hop facility and show everyone the agritourism side of it and then come full circle and have a glass of beer."
The brewery is located on the original family farm, founded in 1895 by Smith's great-great-grandfather. Smith first started making beer in the garage with his partners in 2014. In 2016, his uncle offered an old workshop to transform into a brewery.
The vision started to come to fruition when Smith drew a rough sketch of what he wanted, what he needed and sat down with an aunt to determine how to use materials from around the farm in the beer tasting room.
"There is going to be a tasting (room) connected to the brewery and very farm and boutique branded," Smith said. "We moved all of our working shop to a different farm and went through and cleaned this place up and went through all of the electrical, replaced the roof, the siding, polished the cement, added all the brewing equipment and the walk-in cooler."
The farm has been selling hops to brewers in the area, including Full Sail, for years. Last year, the company picked up undried hops from the field and concocted a small batch of beer that went from farm to tank in three hours.
Smith has entered his beer at the St. Paul brew festival, but typically he relies more on family and friends to critique its quality.
"The festival is more of a festival than a contest, but everyone seemed to have liked (the) fresh hops centennial beer," Smith said. "They drank two kegs in about two hours."