#116 – Hop Farm Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, PA

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

While we were in Pittsburgh, we heard many great things about a new brewery in town called Hop Farm Brewing Company, so we called them up and made a visit. The owner and only brewer, Matt Gouwens, took time out of a brewing day to speak with us and we were lucky enough to try a beer that had not been released yet called ‘Margot’ along with four other beers of his. He has many unique things going on, including growing some hops on his property and working with local farmers to grow hops locally (with plans to use them in Hop Farm beers in the future), nifty manual addition of labels to cans, plans to add a pub-like space with locally sourced food, and a goal to can condition some beers. Matt went through the American Brewer’s Guild program which shows through in the beer, so make sure to stop in and check out his brewery next time you’re in Pittsburgh!

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(2) VITAL INFORMATION

Date of our visit: Tuesday, 4/22/14
Open since: September 2013
Projected bbl Output 2014: 1,000 bbl
Brewhouse size: 10bbl
Owner(s): Matt & Emily Gouwens
Head Brewer: Matt Gouwens
Packaging: Kegs/ Cans/ Large bottles
Distribution: Pittsburgh, PA

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Other things we learned:
* Matt got into homebrewing after his wife bought him a homebrewing kit around 12/ 13 years ago
* Matt went through the American Brewer’s Guild program in 2009
* Have around 12-15 accounts and adding more; all in Pittsburgh for now
* Hand-bottling and canning somewhat manually
* 95% of everything they use is recycled in some way; there is very little waste
* Once they add food, a lot will be locally sourced and there will be vegan options
* Will have hemp seed pretzels with beer-based dipping sauces, like IPA mustard and Nut Brown beer cheese
* Consider themselves an urban farmhouse brewery
* Have around 125 total mature hop plants and 1000 in various stages of propagation on his property, which he will be using in the beer eventually; focusing on Chinook and Centennial

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(3) BEERS WE TASTED DURING OUR VISIT

* Hop Farm IPA
* One Nut Brown
* Little Kulak
* Provision Saison
* Margot
* Complete listing of beers

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Other notes about their beer:

* Working towards doing can-conditioning
* Hop Farm IPA, Provision Saison, and One Nut Brown will be year-round
* Margot (7.5%) Sour Blonde/ Imperial Berliner Weisse was wax-tipped with a pink wax in bombers
* Margot was a collaboration with Box Office Brew Review for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week to pair with The Royal Tenenbaums
* Did a black currant and cherry Saison back in November; used 132 lbs of cherries; left fruit in the bottom of the brite tank
* Cupid was a chocolate cherry stout they made for Valentine’s Day; used 44 lbs of cherries, 5 lbs of cocoa nibs, and some pure tart cherry juice
* Sold 3 barrels of the Cupid; 2 barrels of it are now sitting in a red wine barrel
* Going to do a Saison with homegrown Lime Basil from his house
* Stilltahn Brahn (Steeltown Brown said w/ Pittsburgh accent) is a hopped-up American Brown Ale w/ Centennial, Fuggle, and Zeus hops; it is a collaboration with ShuBrew and CoStar

(4) EXPANSION PLANS

* Add small pub space with food
* Extend distribution

(5) BACKGROUND OF PEOPLE WE SPOKE TO

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[Haggis, Matt, Me]

Name: Matt Gouwens
Title: Owner/ Headbrewer
Been with company since: Beginning
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewer, American Brewer’s Guild program, apprenticed at Iron Hill – Lancaster
Previous Occupation(s): Graphic Designer/ Search Engine Optimization
Favorite Superhero: Hop Man (which is not a real thing… yet)

(6) MORE LINKS ABOUT BREWERY

* Main Website
* Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – “Beer: Another brewery opens in Lawrenceville”

(7) You can find the rest of our photos here

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