A few weeks after starting a fundraising effort to purchase a hop processor – with with less than a week to go before his deadline – Wading River hop farmer John Condzella surpassed his on Monday.
The machine – called "The Wolf" – will allow both his farm on Route 25A, as well as other hop farmers on Long Island, to harvest one of the main ingredients for beer at a much faster rate, leading to better and fresher use for a blossoming microbrew industry (one of which was funded through a Kickstarter campaign of its own).
Several Long Island breweries have used Condzella's hops, including Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, Port Jeff Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company, Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., and more.
RPAB used Condzella's Mt. Hood hops in its Local Hop Pils last year, and co-owner Donavan Hall noted that "local ingredients are a priority for us." The brewery even harvested its own barley last year, grown at Garden of Eve in Riverhead.
"I just wish we could get more," said Port Jeff Brewing Company owner Mike Philbrick last month. Philbrick said he gets most of his hops from Germany or Washington State. "Everyone likes drinking local beer, but ingredients for the beer come from all over the world."
Condzella said that due to the extensive time it can take to hand-pick hops – about an hour per plant – and the number of plants grown (about 1,000) he ended up throwing out hundreds of dollars in crops last year. The Wolf, which can process an acre of hops in an eight-hour work day, would drastically change that.
Additional funds beyond the $27,000 would go toward converting the electrical system on the machine, or if much more is raised, possibly creating a hop alliance with other growers, Condzella said.