Saquatch hops are the first Canadian designed and patented hops world-wide, and they’re being grown in the Fraser Valley. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Tucked along Yale Road on the western edge of Chilliwack lies Royalwood Farm, a 77-acre acre property owned by the Pauls family, who’s been farming in the Fraser Valley for three generations.

“My grandparents came to Canada from the old country in 1948,” said Brian Pauls, who now runs the family business, Rosewood Farms Ltd., which has its roots in a variety of agricultural operations: from chickens to corn and flowers to food, if it can be grown in or on the ground, you can likely find it on the Pauls’ property.

And now they can add being the only farm in western Canada to grow the nation’s first patented hops, aptly named Sasquatch.

The Pauls family is growing nearly 20 acres of Sasquatch hops on two properties within the Fraser Valley; this will be the first commercial harvest of Sasquatch hops. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

“Sasquatch is sort of a fun name,” said Don Konantz, CEO of Hops Connect, the company that designed and patented Canada’s first homegrown hop plant.

“It’s very true, north, strong and free, wild, snowy, interesting, enigmatic image of what Canada and the true north is all about.

“And people just love it!” he continued. “They love the name, the idea, and that it’s local. Who doesn’t want to consume local and Canadian when they’re having a beer?

That’s another reason why “we are so excited to bring out … the first Canadian hop,” added the CEO happily.

Based on a wild strain, Sasquatch “is its own hop in every way … (and Hops Connect) has the plant breeders rights for it. The plant is patented, has been vetted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and we’ve trademarked the name Sasquatch,” he continued.

First cultivated in the Coastal mountains north of Vancouver on a little one-acre farm, Konantz says Hops Connect has moved the first commercial Sasquatch harvest to two plots of Pauls land within the Fraser Valley.

“There were agronomic factors (involved in moving the crops like) climate and soil,” said Konantz.

“The land (where the hops are now being grown) is good … as is the available partnership and expertise that came with the Pauls Family … and this year in particular has been really good for growing hops.”

However, for the Pauls, the decision to add Sasquatch to the family business “a good farming opportunity, as they already had infrastructure in place for hops crops.

“When my grandparents first arrived in Chilliwack, their first job was to pick hops,” said Pauls with a smile. “So we’ve come full circle.

“And we’re supplying a market. I mean, Molson’s now in Chilliwack, so (the market’s) right here,” said Pauls standing next to almost 5,000 Sasquatch hop plants.

However, Sasquatch won’t likely end up in a Molson beer can anytime soon, says Konantz.

“We (only) grow, process, import, and distribute hops (for) the leading craft brewers in Canada,” said Konantz.

Our hops aren’t for “the big, corporate, multi-national brewers who make beer on such a grand scale that they … put things in beer that doen’t need to be in beer.”

True, good-tasting beer, says Konantz, should follow rhenheitzabut, or the Bavarian Purity law, which states beer should only be made up of four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast.

The traditional flavour from the hops comes from the oils produced in hops cone’s lupulin gland. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Originating in Europe, hops made their way in beer production centuries ago. And although there are a few main strains used in brewing today, there are 245 kinds of hops being grown the world over, explained Konantz. And of those, the most popular are Columbus, Chinook, Cascade, which has flavour notes similar to Sasquatch.

“It’s like a mix between Cascade and Goldings, which is a traditional UK variety,” explained Nick Fengler, Brewmaster at Old Yale Brewing (OYB) in Chilliwack, who’s signature beer is their Sasquatch Stout.

“So when we heard about the Sasquatch hops, we wanted to get to the front of that line,” and produce the first Canadian-made beer with the first Canadian-made hops.

To do that, Fengler says OYB is bypassing the waitlist for dried, processed hops, and is instead brewing a batch of fresh hops beer, meaning the first cans of Sasquatch hops-brewed beer will hit the shelves in September.

“It’s a collaborative effort with four other breweries,” said Fengler. “It’s under our license, but (there) will be a hundred per cent new label (on the cans), with everyone’s logo.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack hop harvest signals resurgence

And true to the Canadian roots of both the hops and involved breweries, Fengler says the project is a gamble, yet exciting.

“We as brewers want to support each other as we’re often left out of the Vancouver (craft beer) scene, so (we’re collaborating) to make sure our (brewing) community is strengthened.”

But it’s not only OYB who’s excited for Canada’s first hop, says Konantz.

“What’s exciting is even at this small level, we have brewers lined up saying (they’ll) take everything (we) can grow,” Konantz said. “And we want these brewers to express themselves and create a beer (with our hops) that Canadians can be proud of.”


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Brian Pauls is one of the first farmers to grow Saquatch hops for Hops Connect, the B.C.-based company that designed this hops species. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Just Posted

Community invited to help with Downtown Surrey BIA’s fence art project

Association is hoping to change the ‘narrative’ for 135A Street with artwork

Surrey killer foiled by cops’ suspicion he was underage in a bar

Birinderjeet Singh Bhangu was shot dead outside the Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel on Fraser Highway

Bureaucracy leaves Whalley Legion members thirsty

Legion’s new location needs liquor licence, despite being down street from former digs

Blaine railway stop contingent on international support: All Aboard Washington

Non-profit organizers look to residents of Surrey, White Rock and North Whatcom County

Delta man charged after police surround Tsawwassen home

Troy Kevin Reimer, 52, is charged with one count of uttering or conveying a threat to cause death or bodily harm

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read