Sam Quinlan and Tim Hazard have set themselves an audacious goal: to transform Lillooet into the hops capital of Canada.
Biologists, business partners and owners of HOOH Hops Inc., formerly Bitterbine Hop Company, Quinlan and Hazard are hard at work in the Lillooet Valley with shovels, pickaxes and astute green thumbs to build a business out of what they call the “spice of beer.”
“It’s funny, the business itself resulted out of a passion for beer between myself and my business partner,” said Quinlan. “It was a bit of a pie in the sky idea, but both of us were really interested in getting into the industry. All of the sudden the idea to grow hops for the industry seemed fun and we just jumped in full steam ahead, purchased a property, and it happened to be in Lillooet.”
HOOH’s main products include more than a dozen varieties of certified organic hops that serve small and medium-sized craft breweries, home brewing associations, home brewing supply stories, high-end restaurants and grocery stores.
The company has already sold hops to the Powell Street Craft Brewery in East Vancouver, which contributed to a beer recipe that went on to a win a national award.
HOOH, which stands for Harvesters of Organic Hops, has also sold its hops to Barkerville Brewing Company
in Quesnel and Wheelhouse Brewing Company in Prince Rupert.
The sheer explosion of new craft breweries throughout B.C. in recent years has generated new demand for
certified organic, locally grown hops, said Quinlan.
HOOH connected with Northern Development earlier this year to access funding to hire a consultant to help the company refine its business plan and develop a comprehensive marketing strategy.
HOOH was able to access $7,500 in funding to hire the branding firm Temporarily Unpopular Ideas to help them refine their business plan and marketing goals.
The funding was provided through the Trust’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program, which provides an annual rebate of 50% up to $30,000 for small and medium-sized companies in the region to hire specialized consultants to help improve their performance.
“In order to reach that next step we needed guidance and coaching to build a business plan to get us to that next level,” said Quinlan. “So with this grant from Northern Development we’ve been able to access some very talented business consultants.
We wouldn’t have been able to access this level of talent without this grant. What they were able to do
was help us envision what this company could be at a larger scale, exploring the market potential, how
can hops be marketed and branded in a way that makes our products unique.”
Quinlan said the company’s new brand, website and marketing strategy will be launched in the near future. Meantime, HOOH is well on its way to transforming Lillooet into the hops capital of Canada – a grower’s network has recently been established between the company and other farmers to grow even more hops to serve B.C.’s rapidly expanding craft brew sector.