Michael Roffman, like most individuals in the craft beer industry, turned his initial fascination with home brewing into a business.
Roffman won’t be brewing any beer however. Instead he has created a business model where regional farmers will be able to commercially supply craft brewers with their hops.
“Our primary goal is to aggregate supply from small scale growers throughout the region,” Roffman said.
Based in New York, Roffman plans on contracting with growers as far south as Maryland, as far west as Pennsylvania and potentially as far North as Canada.
His venture, Atlantic Hops, aims to act as the conduit for which small time growers can get their hop plants into craft brew kettles in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
“The growth and the emergence of the craft beer industry, in this region, has created a potential market for regionally or locally sourced ingredients,” Roffman said.
His goal is to focus on delivering a steady supply of locally grown hops to regional brewers, while opening the lines of communication between growers and brewers.
Atlantic Hops will act as the processor — pelletizing, packaging and conducting lab analysis to ensure confidence in the product amongst brewers.
As part of his business model, Roffman has established the “Atlantic Growers Program,” a shared risk initiative in which Atlantic Hops will technical and material support to growers in exchange for a contract commitment of four years.
“It’s our way of saying: let’s do this together,” he said. “It is hopefully more progressive than some more traditional wholesaler models currently out there.”
Roffman has partnered with Gorst Valley Hops, who has a similar business structure in the Midwest.
While he is optimistic, Roffman admits that the success of Atlantic Hops will rely solely on the continued success of the craft beer industry.
“We are taking a calculated risk that the craft beer segment is here to stay and it will stay at a significant enough percentage of the overall beer market, that we can have a profitable business,” he said.
Roffman hopes that he won’t be the only one profiting either.
“We want the growers to understand that they can be profitable in this business as well,” he said.
And in an effort to spread that message, Roffman recently announced that Atlantic Hops is hosting an educational workshop that will outline all the details of growing hops.
“The course is aimed at attracting local growers, aspiring hop farmers, agricultural outreach specialists and regional brewers,” he said.
The workshop will be held on July 16th from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Doubletree by Hilton Tarrtown (455 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY).
For more information visit http://www.atlantichops.com/