Home Hop Garden '17: June Update

My hop garden is progressing. But not as I had expected. Take a look at the two bines in the picture below. While they look very different, they have one thing in common. They're both 2nd year plants, grown from rhizomes planted in spring '16. The Centennial on the left is dwarfed by the Chinook on the right. What's the difference? Well, I've come to realize that it's nutrition. The Chinook had several advantages over its less fortunate neighbor.

Two 2nd year plants: Centennial (left) and Chinook (right)

The first advantage occurred last fall. I harvested the Centennial first and cut down the bine before plucking off the hops. Shortly after, I read an article which recommended that the hop bine should not be cut down. Instead, the hops should be carefully plucked off, and the bine should be left intact, allowing the leaves to send energy down to the roots. It suggested that the bine be cut down only after the leaves turned brown. So that's what I did for the Chinook. I lowered the bine (without cutting it), removed the hops, and raised it back up again.

The second advantage occurred in the spring. The Chinook was originally planted in small pot, so I transplanted it to a larger container. During the transition, I added fresh potting soilwhich likely had more nutrients than the 2nd year soil which surrounded the Centennial.

I first noticed something was awry last month. The Centennial's growth was stunted, it hadn't added any height in a month, and the leaves were pale green. A few weeks ago, I finally added some plant food granules, and that seemed to help. The leaves turned bright green, and the plant started growing again.

Anyway, this lesson may be obvious to most, but I learned it on my own. First and foremost, I will not cut down the bines immediately after harvest. I'll give the plant some time to regenerate its energy before cutting it down for the winter. Second, I'll be more liberal with my use of fertilizer in the spring and summer.

Other than that, things are looking good. The picture below is my 3rd year Willamette, which is now my 2nd largest plant. Three of my 1st year plants have surpassed the growth of my poor nutrient deprived 2nd year Chinook. I expect a month from now, my larger plants will have burrs (hop flowers). Stay tuned!

3rd Year Willamette

The Not So Professional Hop Estate

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Scenes from 7th Annual Cider Summit PDX

The 7th Annual Cider Summit PDX was held last weekend. This was the third time I attended the
event (I missed it last year), and it was a largely unchanged from previous years. Here's a pictorial recap for your viewing pleasure...

This year's tasting glass was made out of a high quality plastic that looked very much like glass. While not as heavy as glass, it had a solid feel to it.

Here are a few of the ciders I sampled.  Similar to past years, the diversity was vast. 

All that cider makes one hungry! The good folks from Cypress Grove provided complimentary samples of four of their delicious cheeses. OK, I'll admit itI went through the sample line more than once.

This year, one cidery stood above the rest in my mind. Founded by brothers Victor and Monte Jones, Mission-Trail Cider Co. from Bradley, California, served a trio of rarely produced jerkums. What the heck is a jerkum? It's a non-apple based fruit wine made with stone fruit. Pears are used to make perry. Plums and nectarines make jerkum. Got it? Anyway, Mission-Trail's jerkums were each made with 100% plum, pluot, and nectarine juice. They each had a tart, bright, and juicy fruit flavors without the sweetness. They were absolutely delicious! Sadly, Mission-Trail doesn't distribute in Oregon. I hope this will change in the future.

Here's the detailed Mission-Trail taplist. I tasted all four of their offerings, and each was amazing. Just so you know, I rarely taste more than one cider from any producer. To say I liked Mission-Trail would be an understatement. I hope they return next year!

It was a beautiful afternoon at the Cider Summit PDX. The Fields Neighborhood Park is the perfect location for this event. It's easily accessible, wide open, never feels crowded, and has great views! 

Looking forward to next year. Cheers!

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Unibroue Releases Éphémère Elderberry Ale

Unibroue has added a new seasonal flavor to its long-running line of Éphémère Belgian-style ales. Éphémère Sureau showcases elderberry. Previous editions of this beer have included apple, blackcurrant, peach, raspberry. A few years ago, they released a Cranberry Éphémère for the winter.

The brewery sent me a sample, which I quickly opened. Immediately after I cracked open the bottle, a waft of fruity berry essence emerged. It was bright garnet in color and had an off-white head that dissipated slowly. Both the aroma and taste were full of bright berry and spicy notes. In the middle, the flavor of wheat emerged along with a gentle tanginess. There was no alcohol heat, and hop bitterness was not noticeable. It finished just as it started, with lots of berry and spice!

I appreciated the fact that Éphémère Sureau's offered bright berry flavors, but without the sweetness. If you're looking for a change of pace for your summer fruit beers, consider this one. I'm glad to see that this release will be available in 12 oz. bottles. I find it much easier to enjoy beers in smaller format bottles. For more details, check out Unibroue's press release below.

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Unibroue Adds a New Elderberry Flavoured Ale to its Éphémère Family
A unique taste reminiscent of Muscat grapes' aromatic charm

Chambly, Canada — Quebec’s top craft brewer Unibroue is adding a brand-new flavour to its family of seasonal ales with the launch of Éphémère Sureau (Elderberry). The new Éphémère will gradually be available as of May 1st in 12 oz. six packs and Sommelier Selection variety packs at retailers across the United States, as well as on tap in selected bars et restaurants. Like its other seasonal flavors, Éphémère Elderberry will only be available for a limited time.

Éphémère Elderberry is a Belgian style fruit-wheat ale brewed using a balanced blend of elderberry fruit and flowers.

“This is the first time we’re using both the fruit and flower in making an Éphémère beer,” explains Jerry Vietz, Unibroue’s Master Brewer. “The elderberry flower’s aroma is a perfect complement to the fruit’s rich, delicious flavour.”

In fact, its berry flavours, subtle floral notes and hints of tropical fruit evoke Muscat grapes’ notable bouquet from the very first sip.

Elderberries’ deep purplish-blue color and unique flavour resemble that of blueberries and blackberries. There is nothing sour about this fruit as its French name, “sureau”, might lead some to believe! It is used in countless recipes, and its aromatic flower adds notes to many refined drinks and cocktails. Moreover, elderberries are an increasingly popular choice in dish recipes due to their high antioxidant levels and subtle flavours. Moreover, North America’s First Nations tribes, who made use of the berries, flowers, bark and roots, also prized their medicinal properties.

Éphémère Elderberry features a slightly cloudy and seductively reddish color with purplish hues, topped by a creamy pink head. Its medium bubbles and sustained effervescence make it a fun and refreshing choice when unwinding after a busy summer day.

“Éphémère Elderberry’s explosion of berry flavours and subtle floral notes make for a wide variety of pairings,” confirms Sylvain Bouchard, beer sommelier at the brewery. “This delicious beer goes very well with pork loin, grilled chicken, as well as fish and seafood dishes, and adds a refreshing touch to rosette sausages. It also pairs well with goat, Brie and Camembert cheeses.”

Cider Summit PDX Returns on June 16-17

Cider Summit PDX returns next weekend to The Fields Park in NW Portland! It also marks the beginning of Oregon Cider Week. Whether you're a seasoned cider connoisseur or just beginning your cider exploration, this is an event you don't want to miss.

To get an idea of what you can expect, here's my recap of Cider Summit PDX '15. The Oregon Fruit Products Fruit Cider Challenge will return for the third year. This will give you the opportunity to sample small-batch fruit ciders made specially for Cider Summit.

For more details, including hours and ticket information, check out the news release below.

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Cider Summit PDX returns to Portland June 16 & 17
Region’s largest cider tasting festival kicks off Oregon Cider Week

PORTLAND, Ore – The seventh annual Cider Summit PDX, the region’s largest hard cider tasting festival, will take place June 16 and June 17 at The Fields Park, 1099 NW Overton St. in the Pearl District. Event hours are June 16 from 3pm to 8pm (VIP session starts at 2pm) and June 17 from Noon to 5pm. The last pour is 15 minutes prior to the close of each session.

Cider Summit PDX will showcase more than 150 ciders, including regional favorites and international classics, from the industry’s leading cidermakers, many of which will be on hand to inform and guide guests through the tastings poured into the commemorative festival glassware. The event also serves as the official kick-off to Oregon Cider Week.

“Artisanal cider has become one of the fastest growing segments of the craft beverage market in recent years,” noted event co-founder, Alan Shapiro. “The Cider Summit exposes thousands of cider lovers and the cider curious to these artfully crafted beverages.”

The event will feature a variety of food vendors, a Dog Lounge, and live music featuring several of Portland's legendary blues artists.

Tickets are now on sale at http://www.cidersummitnw.com/portlandtickets.html. General admission includes a souvenir tasting glass and six tasting tickets and costs $25 prior to June 1, $30 prior to June 16, or $35 at the gate. GA tickets will also be available starting June 1 at World Foods (NW), World Foods (SW), Cider Bite Taphouse (Pearl), Umpqua Bank (Pearl), and selected bottle shops throughout the City.

VIP tickets include a souvenir tasting glass, exclusive entry from 2pm-3pm on June 16, and 10 tasting tickets; VIP tickets cost $35 prior to June 1 or $40 prior to June 16. VIP tickets are available online only, with limited quantities.

Designated Driver tickets are available at the gate for $5 and include a bottle of water. No alcohol may be consumed with a Designated Driver ticket. All tickets allow re-entry on Friday and Saturday with a wristband and the tasting glass.

Once inside, most cider samples cost one ticket for a 4-oz. sample; select ciders may cost extra. Additional tasting tickets are available onsite for $2 each. Minors are not allowed at the festival, no exceptions.

Several of the cidermakers will participate in the third annual Oregon Fruit Products Fruit Cider Challenge, creating pilot batch fruit ciders using Oregon Fruit Product’s puree; attendees vote on their favorites via text, and the winners are announced at the conclusion of the event on Saturday.

Cider Summit PDX is presented by World Foods Portland and Ciderbite Taphouse. Supporting sponsors include Oregon Fruit Products, KRAVE Jerky, Hood River Juice, Umpqua Bank, Maletis Beverage and The Portland Streetcar. Media partners include 94/7 Alternative Portland, The Portland Mercury, and CIDERCRAFT Magazine. The event is a benefit for Cascade Blues Association, Northwest Cider Association, DoveLewis Emergency Pet Hospital and The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research.

For more information, visit CiderSummit.com, Facebook.com/CiderSummit or follow @CiderSummit on Twitter, hashtag #CiderSummitPDX.

Lompoc Brewing Releases Proletariat Red in Cans

Lompoc Brewing is releasing Proletariat Red in six-packs of 12 oz. cans. To celebrate the occasion, Lompoc is selling six-packs for a mere $6!! This special pricing is available only during the Proletariat Red Can Kickoff BBQ on June 17 at the Fifth Quadrant. I'm a big fan of red ales, and this one is no slouch. It won a silver medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.

In addition, the brewery is launching a new Select Series. The first release, Barrel Aged Red on Rye was aged in Heaven Hill Rye Whiskey barrels for 10 months. Sounds pretty tasty to me. For more details, check out the news release below.

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Lompoc Brewing releases Proletariat Red in cans, hosts a BBQ, 
and announces Barrel Aged Select Series in bottles

PORTLAND, Ore. – Lompoc Brewing’s award-winning Proletariat Red is now available in 12 oz. cans, sold as a six-pack, joining the flagship beer’s availability on draft and in 22 oz. bottles. The cans can be purchased at the brewery’s Fifth Quadrant and Sidebar locations (3901 N Williams Ave.), and in select stores throughout the Portland metropolitan area.

Lompoc has announced a BBQ party to celebrate the release of the cans on Saturday, June 17, from 4pm to 9pm at its Fifth Quadrant pub. There will be corn hole games, prizes, BBQ food specials and a fire pit. The six packs will feature special pricing that day, and the brewery’s Lömpocker Hoppy Kölsch and new Lomporter will be available on draft. Admission to the event is free.

A silver medal winner at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, Proletariat Red is deep chestnut in color, and features toasted malt with biscuit undertones leading to caramelized pear and cinnamon. It strikes a complementary balance between malt and hops, and weighs in at 6.2% ABV.

Lompoc is also debuting a new Select Series later this month: Barrel Aged Red on Rye will be released in 500ml bottles and on draft on Thursday, June 22 at 4pm at Sidebar. Barrel Aged Red on Rye was aged in Heaven Hill Rye Whiskey barrels for 10 months. Crimson in color, it features oak in the nose to complement a malty body with caramel flavors. It was brewed with Rauch malt, giving off a touch of smoke and acidulated malt giving off a slight tartness (6% ABV).

About Lompoc Brewing
Lompoc Brewing creates eight flavorful year-round beers, plus a ridiculous number of seasonals. You can find Lompoc Beers in 12-ounce and 22-ounce bottles, 12-ounce cans, and on draft at locations in Oregon and Washington, and at its five Portland neighborhood pubs: Fifth Quadrant and Sidebar in North Portland, Hedge House and Oaks Bottom in Southeast, and the Lompoc Tavern in Northwest. Proudly brewed in Lompoc, Oregon, a state of mind; if you’re here, then you're already there.