Greg White was brewing beer before he was old enough to drink it, finding the perfect blends of hops, barley, and yeast under the direction of his father. Thirty-seven years later, White (who goes by his initials “GW”) continues his love of home brewing and has won many competitions with his brews. His hobby ran into trouble about 10 years ago, however, when there was a worldwide hops shortage. GW decided to start growing his own hops so that he wouldn’t be affected by a shortage again.
“I started with two plants that died, but eventually I ended up with more hops than I would ever make beer with,” GW noted. He now has more than 200 hops plants and is a premier provider of hops in East Central Indiana. Every year, he sells out of his high-quality Nugget and Cascade hops.
“My goal is to be the Johnny Appleseed of hops in Delaware County.”
That dream is closer to reality thanks to GW’s winning pitch in The Big Idea Pitch presented by the Muncie Innovation Connector last fall. He entered The Big Idea Pitch at the insistence of Tom Steiner, East Central ISBDC business advisor. Steiner has encouraged GW to position his hops as a specialty brand, commanding a higher price.
Following Steiner’s advice and winning funds from The Big Idea Pitch will help GW have a profitable year ahead. He has also had help along the way from Michael O’Donnell of the Delaware County Purdue Extension Office. GW sees even more potential in his hops business.
“You can’t make beer without hops, but there’s more than that,” he said. “As antibiotic-free meat grows in demand, so will hops because antibiotic-free livestock need hops.”
He expanded to include other produce and honeybees for pollination within his business and has named the endeavor GW Hops and Honey. He plans to continue to grow both aspects of his business and become an even bigger hops supplier.
GW’s philosophy for his business is “If someone throws you the ball, run with it.”
For more information about GW Hops and Honey, call (765) 747-8115.