It's Hop Harvest time! The 2011 Beer Bloggers Conference was recently held in Portland. On the opening day, we were treated to a special event—an evening at Goschie Farms, a family-owned, third generation hop farm.
Goschie Farms is located in Silverton, Oregon. Usually a 45 minute drive, our bus journey took almost three hours due to rush hour traffic! Please, shed no tears—our bus had an insane amount of beer on board! We even had brewers along for the ride to tell us the stories behind the beers. Jamie Floyd, Brewmaster at Ninkasi Brewing Co., was on our bus. Jamie was kind enough to tell us the history of beer—dating all the way back to the Code of Hammurabi. While I thought the impromptu lecture was enlightening, my colleagues seemed to be more interested in drinking beer. Thanks for the history lesson, Jamie! Back to the hops...
|Jamie Floyd tells the history of beer|
Oregon is the second largest domestic producer of hops (behind Washington). Hop harvest begins in mid-August and lasts about 6 weeks. During this short window, some farms operate 24 hour a day. If you've never seen a hop plant, you should know that they grow vertically—up to 18 feet high on trellises! I was also amazed by the mechanization process used to separate, dry, and package the hops. Check out my video below to see the whole process in less than 4 minutes.
The other benefit of the hop harvest is "fresh hop" beers. The vast majority of beers use dried hops. Fresh hop beers use "wet" hops. They're wet because they contain a lot of water. To gain the same amount of hop bitterness using wet hops, you need to use about 8x the amount dried hops. Brewers love to use fresh hops and make limited edition brews. Last fall, I attended a Fresh Hop Beer Festival in Portland. This year's event is planned scheduled on October 8, at Oaks Park. I'll provide more details as they are available.
If you ever get a chance to visit a hop farm during harvest time, don't miss it!