The Hop Box is an oast for drying hops and was originally designed for my small hop farming operation. It was pretty easy to make, and coincidentally, this makes it practical for home brewers growing their own hops. Recently, I’ve been thinking about perfecting the Hop Box and making it available for sale. The rest of this post is meant to explain why a home hop-grower might make an investment in the Hop Box.
Many who grow hops at home dry their hops by laying them on a screen door or table of some kind with a fan aimed at them to dry. My issue with this method is that you have no control over the process whatsoever. The second you pick the hops from the bine, mother nature goes to work decomposing the poor things. This is a race against the clock. You have to get those hops vacuum sealed and in the freezer, ASAP.
The Hop Box is designed with the intention of drying hops as quickly as possible, at less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Studies have shown that when drying hops, as you increase the temperature, the amount of time needed to reach 8-10% decreases incrementally. The large hop farms dry their hops in less than 8 hours by applying 140 degree heat and moderate airflow. At 104 degrees, the same process takes about 18 hours. The Hop Box is designed to get the job done in 18-20 hours using high airflow and heat of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Hop Box, by the time it’s for sale to the public, will have a capacity to produce ten pounds of dry hops at once. Keep in mind, dry hops have lost a lot of water weight. Ten pounds of dry hops might be somewhere around thirty pounds or more of wet hops. What does ten pounds of dry hops at once mean? Well, each plant will produce between 1.5 and 2 pounds of dry hops. Given 20 hours, The Hop Box can provide adequate drying for a home brewer with up to 5 plants. On top of the capacity, it will have five shelves. This will give it the ability to dry five different varieties at once.
To sum up.. the City Harvest Hop Box has the following capabilities/advantages:
1. Capacity for drying hops from 5 mature Hop plants (10 lbs of dry hops).
2. Capacity for drying 5 Varieties at once.
3. Low temperature heating for quality.
I will keep the website up to date on whether we move forward with the concept of selling these. Two methods of sale come to mind: selling the box itself and selling the blueprints to make it. For now, I can tell you for certain that we will need to build a couple more to handle next Fall’s harvest. I hope dad is up for it.