Producer Feature: Srstka Hops Farm
When asked why they grow hops, Joshua and Kelsey Srstka quickly replied, “Because it is the key ingredient to brewing a great BEER!” And that response is a key to understanding their goals which are to provide a constant quality South Dakota hop to South Dakota brewers year after year, and to become an integral part of this state’s craft beer production. In 5 years, they would like to be under contract with a local brewer for at least one of their seven varieties, and have at least 3 of their 14 acres in full production.
They currently live in Armour, SD on 14 acres at the edge of the city limits. They understand that the national trend and expansion of micro-breweries is at the heart of their success. Each brewery has their own preferences on which types of beer they like to brew and which types of hops to put in those brews, and knowing those preferences will allow them to grow the hops that South Dakota brewers are looking to utilize. Another aspect of micro-breweries that impacts them is their quantity of growth. The more the micro-brewery scene grows, which they hope it does, so will the quantity of growth they will need to provide to meet the needs of the brewers. That will allow them to grow and plant more acres of hops.
Besides being a part of this growing industry in South Dakota, there are other perks to hops. According to Kelsey, “Harvest is by far the most satisfying. A few of our favorite times of harvest are: telling if the hops are mature by checking the color of the lupulin inside the cone, and of course smelling the hop funk. Pulling a hop cone open to see the deep golden lupulin shine in the sunlight is a happy mo- ment, and having the hop funk smell on your hands at the end of the day was worth waiting for all summer. We currently pick by hand, and the distinct smell of the seven different varieties of hops is very enjoyable. Each member of the family has a favorite.”
Srstka’s are just one family jumping into hops production in South Dakota. As the relationships between brewers contin- ues to develop, we wish them all great success and great BEER.