Blue Lake Hops and Gardens was first established 2014. During the 2015 and 2016 seasons it was recognized that brewers were mostly interested in fresh hops from our farm. During 2017 we started dialogue with Michigan State University and getting involved with their Food Processing Innovation Center (FPIC) at Okemos Michigan.
In September of 2018, Blue Lake Hops began the arduous process of re-inventing the wheel in the world of hop processing. With 100lbs of cascade hops from a local Michigan grower, along with help from the Michigan State University Product Innovation Center, ‘The Blue Lake Process®’ was born. ‘The Blue Lake Process®’ preserves fresh hops right off the bine without the need for drying, pulverizing and extruding.
From September to January 2018, 100lbs of cascade hops remained frozen in storage. Samples were tested monthly for alpha and beta acid percentages, as well as other chemical components of hops related to the flavor and aroma qualities. Test results relating to the integrity of the product over time were promising and, after the first of the year, we decided to take the next step in testing our new process asking local home-brewers to lead the charge. Shelf-life Testing of the 2018 harvest continues.
In January of 2019, through the help of local home-brew supply stores, we placed test packets of the product in the capable hands of home-brewers. Utilizing an online survey, we asked for feedback about packaging, aroma, flavor, and overall appeal and interest in the product. The results were immediately positive and continue to praise our unique process.
This made us the first company in the world
offering a fresh hop frozen product available year-round.
Since the 2019 harvest we have been purchasing and producing commercial volumes of hops for the fresh hop market. The formal introduction of the company was early March 2020 and then…. COVID. Two weeks after a highly successful introduction of “The Blue Lake Process®” at the MSU Hops and Barley Conference, the brewing world all but shut-down and we marked time with a shift in focus to the Home Brewers who were practicing the brewing craft during the troubling time.
During the challenging harvest seasons of 2020 and 2021 we continued growing, purchasing, and processing hops by expanding available varieties. In June of 2022 we re-introduced our product at the National Homebrew Con in Pittsburgh and included our Home Brewing 2oz package size along side our 2lb, 1Kg, and 5lb packaging.
For the 2022 harvest we became involved with research involving the application of the RipeLocker® technology to prolong the freshness of wet whole hops. At the request of VGF Inc we applied “The Blue Lake Process®” to fresh Amarillo® hops weeks after harvest. Following more that two weeks, 2,100 miles of RipeLocker® transit and then the application of our Process, the appearance and hops quality testing proved there is now a wide-open Window of Quality for Fresh Hop Brewing. No longer limited to hours and days…
FRESH HOP BREWING IS NOW AVAILABLE MONTHS AND YEARS AFTER HARVEST!
What is it?
‘The Blue Lake Process®’ is an alternative fresh hop product for brewing. Our hop products allow access to fresh off the bine hops up to a year from the harvest date to home-brewers and those seeking to create harvest-style beers just like those produced by large commercial craft breweries.
“Join the Fresh Hop Movement! ™”
‘The Blue Lake Process®’ is the result of an objective outlook on the rebirth of the hops industry within Michigan and other non-traditional hop growing areas. Central to this outlook and rebirth is how new hop entrepreneurs joining the hop growing industry could create a viable business based in the terroir of growing regions and the micro-climates within them. Another goal was to mitigate the costs related to traditional hop processing methods which typically include very expensive processing equipment.