When craft beer became popular in Thailand, it didn’t take long before Thais figured out brewing it themselves was better than importing it. This philosophy is now taken even further with Thailand’s first hops farm. Hops are an essential ingredient in brewing, they add flavor and lengthen the shelf life of beer. All hops used in Thailand are imported but brothers Nattachai and Teerapart Ungsriwong are looking to change that. Their project is called Deva Farm and is located in Nonthaburi, just outside of Bangkok.
What inspired you to start growing hops in Thailand?
Everyone said growing hops, until they flower, is impossible in Thailand. But after growing many different kinds of plants I thought I could do it, so I decided to start this project. I think it will be good if we have fresh and local hops. I’ve also learned that the same varieties of hops taste different when grown in different environments, I want to see how the hops will taste when grown in Thailand.
Is it difficult to grow hops in this climate?
It’s a big challenge. Weather is an important factor. The Thai summer with its extremely hot temperatures burn the hops and make them unhealthy, but during the last winter (December ’15 – February ’16) our hops were very healthy and had many flowers. Since I grow in a hydroponic water system, soil or fertilizer isn’t an issue.
When and how did you start growing?
Actually, I first start growing wild hops from seeds in February 2015. And in April 2015 I got the rhizomes, so I could start to grow hops from rhizomes instead. I had to experiment a lot before I could make the hops flower. When I got that right, I started to construct greenhouses in October 2015.
I’m assuming that you grow to supply the local craft beer brewers, which brewers do you supply to as of now?
The farm is in its first stage so there are not many hops to sell now. But we have done two, to three, special events like the “Pakkret Wet Hops” launch on 20 March 2016. It’s a collaborative project between 72 Brewing Co. and Devanom. It’s the first time a Thai craft beer got canned and used local, fresh hops from our farm. We are also organizing hops farm tours that we do in cooperation with the Facebook page “Beercyclopedia”.
I saw pictures of lettuce and som sar on your page too, do you grow other produce besides hops?
Yes, we grow some organic plant that we plan to use in our cafe, which is another project we’re working on. Some of the stuff we grow can be added to beer as well like som sar, yuzu, and grapefruit.
Good luck guys and thanks for talking to us!