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Growing Beer, Stick By Stick

What’s the difference between a hopyard and field of weeds? It’s the trellis system.

It wasn’t until our brewing forefathers learned how to grow hops on a trellis, away from the damp soil and exposed to the sun, that the wild plant known as Humulus lupulus became a cultivated crop and one of the key ingredients in beer.

A hopyard trellis will last for five decades or longer. But ever once in a while, you need to get down in the dirt and do some repairs.

Empty Hopyard

With no hops growing and the rhizomes dormant underground, winter is the best time for hopyard repairs.

Just one acre of hops has dozens of posts. They’re what hold up the trellis wires, strings and bines from the start of the growing season until harvest.

But posts don’t last forever. Each winter we at Rogue Farms pull out the old ones and replace them. It’s one of our most important chores of the year. Should a post fail, an entire section of hops could come crashing to the ground.

To replace a pole, you start by digging a new hole, or cleaning out an old one.

To replace a post, you start by digging a new hole, or cleaning out an old one.

Holes are dug several feet into the soil, deep enough to keep the posts erect as they hold up hundreds of pounds of bines.

Dropping the posts into the holes.

Dropping the posts into the holes.

Back filling with dirt.

Back filling with dirt.

A completed hopyard.

A completed hopyard.

When we’re done putting a new pole in place, we’ll tie it down with heavy wire that will keep it steady during wind, rain, snow and whatever else Mother Nature sends our way. With dozens of posts to replace, the work may continue into March.

If you want to grow beer from bine to brew, first have a strong trellis.

Even in the “dead” of winter, there’s always something going on at Rogue Farms. Come on by and see how we grow beer, spirits, ciders and sodas.

roguefarms grow the revolution

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