26 Mar, 2024 @ 12:15
1 min read

Startup company grows top quality indoor hops to keep beer supplies flowing despite climate change problems in Spain

A SPANISH startup company is producing indoor hop plants under multicolour LED lights to ensure that weather changes don’t halt beer production.

Ekonoke says the hydroponically grown hops will shield beer from the impact of climate change, as hop plants don’t like the hotter, drier conditions experienced in recent years, resulting in production falls.

Hops are a key ingredient in beer making, combining bitterness and complex aromas.

But the plants are very demanding when it comes to growing conditions — they require an abundance of water, fresh temperatures and good light levels, and are only happy within certain world latitudes (between 42 and 45 degrees).

In Spain, hops are mostly produced in one northern region, Castilla y Leon, where farmers are struggling with a multi-year drought.

Ekonoke CEO and co-founder, Ines Segrario, said: “The difficulty was to obtain returns comparable to those in the countryside.”

“Others have tried but haven’t succeeded. Perhaps because of a lack of focus — at one point we dropped all of what we were doing before and concentrated on hops full-time.”

According to the company, extreme weather events linked to climate change are reducing the productivity per hectare of hops outdoors by up to 30%.

Its business model relies on entering 20-year contracts with beermakers, which involve setting up a hop-growing facility right next to their breweries.

All of Ekonoke’s production is being sold to Corporacion Hijos de Rivera, the makers of Estrella Galicia beer — which already sells IPA and amber lager beers made with the startup’s hops.

Ekonoke built a 1,200 square-metre pilot production facility next to Estrella Galicia’s plant in the north-west province of Lugo, on land rented to them by Hijos de Rivera.


Being much bigger companies, the brewers can negotiate better deals for construction materials and energy supply, considerably reducing the startup’s costs.

Other startups have struggled due to the high energy bills that come from growing indoors. 

The proximity to the brewery also allows Ekonoke to reduce its CO? footprint by cutting down on transport, as well as reusing packaging materials.

A large Japanese beer company, known for being the strictest when it comes to properties of the hops it uses, concluded Ekonoke’s crop was equal in quality to those grown outdoors.

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