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Posts from the ‘Hops’ Category

Growing Our Own Ingredients

Drive down Wigrich Road to Rogue Farms this time of year and you’ll always find something new going on.

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Estate Grown Hops

We’re about a week away from the summer solstice, aka the longest day of the year.

On June 20th, the sun will rise over Rogue Farms at 5:25am and won’t drop below the horizon until 9:02pm. 15 hours, 36 minutes and 31 seconds of daylight.

This is when is our hop bines go into overdrive. Long periods of daylight trigger the natural hormones within hops that cause them to grow several inches in a day, several feet in a week. You can literally watch the hops grow.

So how’s this year’s crop coming along?

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Spring Training For Beer

In just a few weeks, May 20th to be exact, we cross a magical threshold at Rogue Farms.

On that day we’ll get 15 hours, 2 minutes and 1 second of daylight. These “15 hour” days will be with us for another couple of months.

Hops love 15 hour days. They crave those long periods of daylight to trigger growth hormones that send the bines climbing up the trellises several inches in a day, several feet in a week.

But first we have to give them a head start. It’s called training.

Training starts by picking the best looking bines from a mound.

Training starts as we pick the best looking bines from a mound. Only a few of the bines will be trained. The others we’ll cut back to the ground.

We have 1549 strings per acre, 65058 strings in the entire hopyard. We train each bine by hand. It’s time-consuming work, but one of the most important chores we do all year. Without training, the bines will just spread out over the field. Climbing up the trellis strings gives them maximum exposure to the sun they so desperately need to grow and produce cones.

The best bines are wound clockwise around the trellis strings. Clockwise because that's how bines follow the sun.

The best bines are wound clockwise around the trellis strings. Clockwise because that’s how bines follow the sun.

Bines climb the strings with tiny hairs that are about impossible to see without a magnifying glass. If you rub against them they are irritating to the skin. Which is why most of the time we wear gloves when handling hop bines.

Then they're tied in place. After that, we let Mother Nature and sunshine take care of the rest.

Then we tie them in place. After that, we let Mother Nature and sunshine take it from here.

There are a lot of places that get more sun that we do in the Wigrich Appellation. But most of those places don’t get “15 hour” days. Nor do they have our mild and wet winters and springs, nor our rich alluvial soils. Our climate and soil are two big reasons why Rogue Farms has the world’s best terroir for growing hops.

Please see for yourself by visiting us at Rogue Farms this spring. Taste the difference terroir makes the next time you open a Rogue ale, porter, lager, stout, mead, braggot, kolsch or spirits.

roguefarms we grow beer and spirits_web

 

Of Thee I String

At Rogue Farms we’re having one of the nicest stretches of weather we’ve seen in months. The sun is out and the days are warm.

It’s perfect timing for the biggest chore of the season – stringing, staking and training the hops.

The "string" we use at Rogue Farms is called coir. It's a twine made from Sri Lanka coconut husks.

The “string” we use at Rogue Farms is called coir. It’s a twine made from Sri Lanka coconut husks. We cut down the string during the harvest and leave it on the hopyard floor as mulch.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

New strings have to go up in spring, or the hops won’t have a way to climb up the trellis. Crews ride through the hopyard on one of the strangest contraptions you’ll ever see, tying one end of the strings to the wires.

Stringing Crew 3

The work must be done with military like precision. There are more than 1,500 strings per acre, or 63,637 strings in the Rogue Farms 42 acre hopyard.

Tying The Knot 2

Each of the 63,637 strings are knotted by hand.

Stringing Crew 2

After the knots are tied, we drop the other end of the string to the ground.

staking

Then another crew comes in after the first one, pushing the bottom end of the string deep into the ground and staking it taut.

After about a week of stringing and staking, here's what the hopyard looks like when we're done.

After days of stringing and staking, here’s what the hopyard looks like when we’re done.

The final step is called training. Hops need as much exposure to the sun as possible, and a well made trellis system of poles, wires and strings is the best way to make that happen. But bines need our help. So when they’re about two feet fall we take the best bines from every plant and wrap them clockwise around the strings to give them a head start.

In about six weeks, the periods of daylight at Rogue Farms will run 15 hours and longer. This is when hops begin their incredible growth spurts, climbing several inches in a day, several feet in a week. Cones begin to form in June, and the harvest usually occurs in late August and September.

The season for growing beers and spirits is just beginning. See how we do it, from farm to table, at Rogue Farms.

roguefarms grow the revolution

 

The Beer And Spirits Growing Season Begins

The calendar says spring doesn’t arrive for another nine days, but at Rogue Farms we’re calling it now.

For starters, the sun is out and we might even warm up into the sixties by the weekend.

But the big news is what’s happening right at our feet. The bines are emerging.

First Bines

A Rogue Farms Independent hop bine emerging from the soil.

There’s nothing like seeing the first bines of the season to get us excited about another season of growing beer and spirits.

And that’s not all. Over by the processing facility we just received our shipment of coir, the twine we use to string the hopyard.

Each of these bales of coir weighs 550 pounds.

Each bale contains 550 pounds of coir, a twine made from the stringy material found in coconut shells.

Stringing and staking the hopyard is one of the most important chores of spring. Eventually those tiny hop bines will grow to 30 – 40 feet long, but only if we give them a way to grow up towards the sun.

Here’s what the hopyard looks like now.

Pole and wires but no strings.

Pole and wires – but no strings.

When stringing and staking begins, it takes about a week or so to complete the job.

A fully strung hopyard. In case you're wondering, that shadowy figure is not Bigfoot.

A fully strung hopyard. In case you’re wondering, that shadowy figure is not Bigfoot.

Once the bines are a couple of feet high, we’ll train them to the climb the strings. We wrap one or two bines clockwise around a string and tie them in place. Clockwise because that’s how hops follow the sun throughout the day.

Weather permitting, we’ll string the hopyard on April 1st. We’re also getting ready to plant our 20 acres of Dream Rye. By late spring we’ll plant our acre of Marionberries and four acres of Dream Pumpkins. Jalapeños by summer. The season of growing our proprietary palate of flavors for our craft beverages is underway.

Please join us at Rogue Farms this spring and see how we grow beer and spirits!

roguefarms grow the revolution

Back In The Dirt

With the big flood of February behind us, we’re back to work at Rogue Farms for a new season of growing beer and spirits.

The flood caused an 11 day delay in the biggest chore this time of year, digging up and replacing rhizomes.

Digging Rhizomes

Digging up rhizomes by hand.

Every winter we dig up rhizomes in one part of the hopyard, split them, and then replant them in other areas to replace bines that are no longer productive. It’s an annual tradition that helps us maintain a healthy hopyard that will grow hops for decades.

But the floods put us in a real time crunch this year. We need to finish the job before the bines start growing, which could happen in the next few weeks. Everyone is hustling to get it done.

Digging Rhizomes 2

As soon as the hopyard dried out after the floods, farm hands were back in the dirt.

As far as we can tell, the floods didn’t do any damage to the hops. In fact, it might have helped. Last time it flooded like this we had an excellent crop. But there’s a lot more weather to come before we pick the hops in August and we remain – as always – at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Please come join us at Rogue Farms this spring and see for yourself how the hops, rye, pumpkins, marionberries, jalapeños and honeybees are doing.

roguefarms we grow beer and spirits_web

No Males Allowed

One of our winter chores at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon is finding and removing unwanted hop plants. You see, some bines grow up to be completely useless. They lie around all day, using up precious resources and don’t produce any of the lupulin we use to make beer.

They are the males of the species. Read more

From Bine To Brew – The Rogue Farms Hop Harvest

Revolution Harvest 1_edited-1We’re taking a break during the hop harvest here at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon to give you an update on what’s happening.

As you may have seen in our earlier post, we kicked off the harvest season when we started picking our Freedom Hops. And two days later we picked our Revolution hops.

That leaves us with four more varieties to pick before the harvest winds down in early September.

We do more than grow and pick the hops that we use to create Rogue Farms ales, lagers, stouts and porters… we also process them on the farm just a few feet away from the hopyard.

Here’s the journey, from bine to brew, in photos.

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The Longest And Oddest Day Of The Year

6.4.11 (32)_16x915 hours, 36 minutes and 32 seconds.

That’s how much daylight we’re getting today and tomorrow, making these days the “longest” of the year. And at 10:04pm PDT we reach summer solstice. The official start of summer.

Our Rogue Farms hops bines should be arming out at incredible speeds, growing up to a foot per day. But they’re not. And there’s something else strange going on that has us scratching our heads.

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Here’s How You Know Hops Are Ready To Grow Cones

Hop Bines JuneIt’s a couple of weeks to the summer solstice and we at Rogue Farms in the peak of the running season.

More than 15 hours of daylight has our hop bines in overdrive, growing several inches a day, several feet a week. So far, it’s all about the bines.

But bines are nothing without cones. And now we can report that the cone growing season is about to begin.  That happens when the bines, literally, go over the top.

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