Rick Humphries and Mary Findlay preparing  for the hops harvest
Rick Humphries and Mary Findlay preparing for the hops harvest Liana Walker

Are these locals Queensland's only commercial hops growers?

RICK Humphries is brewing up a plan - founded on a "whim" - but which could prove to be the toast of the famous wine-producing region of the Granite Belt and a first for Queensland.

Mr Humphries and his wife Mary Findlay have just harvested their second yield of hops, or flowers of the hop plant used in beer, and believe they may be the only people growing hops commercially in the state.

"We keep saying that and no one's challenged it," Mr Humphries said this week.

The owners of Possum Lane Enterprises based south of Stanthorpe on Texas Rd, currently grow hydroponic parsley which is sold commercially in Brisbane, and vegetables which are sold to some local restaurants and at local markets.

Mr Humphries, who first saw a hops plant in 2016, said the couple decided to give hops a go "on a whim".

"I was looking for something in addition to parsley and veggies and that's how the journey started.

"Also, the climate is cold enough here so the plants can go into hibernation and have a rest in winter, which is important."

 

Rick Humphries with one of the hops flowers from the 2018 harvest.
Rick Humphries with one of the hops flowers from the 2018 harvest. Liana Walker

He said their first crop which was harvested this time last year was sold to Ernie Butler, owner of Brass Monkey Brewery.

"And he made that into beer. It was very drinkable and it proves that hops grown on the Granite Belt can make good quality beer."

Mr Humphries said he had increased his crop this year from 180 plants to 320, and next year he would aim for 400.

"It's just my wife and I so we're a very small operation.

"What would be great is if we can prove there's a market and there's a quid in it. Then someone with more capital might actually set up something at scale, and we might be the catalyst for a new industry on the Granite Belt.

"You never know!"

This year, Mr Humphries said, he would also be packaging his product and selling it to the home brew market.

"We think their brews will improve if they use fresh, locally grown hops. And with all our products, there's no chemicals. We follow organic principles.

"We've got five varieties available and we want to sell it to them in 100g packets."



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