Craft-beer boom keeping N.B. hop farmer busy

With a number of new craft breweries popping up and expanding in the Maritimes, one hop farmer says he's busy trying to keep up with demand.

'You’ve got to be prepared and you’ve got to be very proactive,' says Nic Southan

Nic Southan started hop farming in 2012. He now has about 25 buyers. (CBC)

With a number of new craft breweries popping up and expanding in the Maritimes, one hop farmer says he's busy trying to keep up with demand.

"There's more brewers all the time. And, a lot of the existing breweries are putting more tanks in and expanding. So, it's looking good for us," hop farmer Nic Southan on Shift NB.

Southan comes from a long line of farmers and his property in Florenceville-Bristol, N.B., has been in the family for generations. In 2012, Southan thought he'd give hop farming a try after hearing there was a shortage. He said he was one of the first hop farmers in the province.

It took about a year to get the root system establish and now, Southan said he has plants as high as six metres and offers four different varieties of hops to buyers.

Southan said he has about 25 clients, including Upstreet Craft Brewing and PEI Brewing Company in Charlottetown, and Grimross Brewing and Mama's Brew Pub in Fredericton.

He admits that hop farming wasn't something he originally planned on doing with his life. Still, he's happy he chose this path even though hop farming is a lot of work.

"It's a lot of management. You've got to be around to know what's going on because as soon as you turn your back, there's going to be insects coming … [and] disease coming. You've got to be prepared and you've got to be very proactive."

Nic Southan from Southan Farms grows a variety of hops for craft brewery industry in the Maritimes. 8:53