From Bine To Bale, How A Hop Becomes Beer
We’re now a week into the annual Hop Harvest at Rogue Farms, the busiest time of the year. If you’ve ever wanted to see how a crop becomes a beer ingredient, hop in your car, on a bike, in a plane or canoe and pay us a visit.
What you’ll discover is an Oregon tradition that goes back 150 years. Cutting, picking, sorting, kilning, cooling and baling cones has been going on this part of the state since the late 1800s. Even the so-called “modern technology” we use to process hops is seven decades old.
It’s not just hops. Many of our other ingredients are still ripening and will be ready for picking in the several weeks.
Here’s a look at what’s going on.
Not all of this year’s crop will be kilned, cooled and baled. Rogue Brewmaster John Maier comes this Thursday to grab a few hundred pounds of fresh Yaquina hops and drive them 77 miles back to the Brewery in Newport where he’ll craft this year’s batch of Wet Hop Ale.
We picked the first batch of Dream Pumpkins in early August and now they’re at the Brewery in Newport where we’re cleaning, chunking and roasting them to caramelize those sweet pumpkin sugars. Coming next month: Pumpkin Patch Ale. Don’t worry about us running out. More pumpkins are ripening in the fields and will be picked soon.
Those small dents you see on this ear of corn tell us the kernels are in the doughy stage and will be ready for picking in a few weeks. Meanwhile, at the Rogue Distillery, we’re experimenting with Rogue bourbon that we mashed and distilled with last year’s crop.
What most people don’t know about jalapeños is that they’re not ripe until they’re red. There’s nothing wrong with eating or cooking with unripe green jalapeños, they’re still spicy and edible. But we go the full distance with our peppers. Red ones taste better than green ones and make the best possible chipotles that we dry smoke ourselves to use in Chipotle Ale and Chipotle Whiskey.
We we’re talking the other day about how much our field of Prickless Marionberries looks like a miniature version of our hopyard complete with poles and trellis wires. We installed the poles a week ago and just finished putting up the wires over the weekend.
Marionberries are like hops in another way. They don’t produce a crop the year they were planted. The starters we put in the ground last May need to go through a hard frost before they’ll grow berries. We don’t get that kind of weather until late September or October. So while they look small now, by next summer they’ll be huge, bushy and brimming with purplish tart fruit.
Beware Of Farmers
While you’re visiting Rogue Farms during the hop harvest, we ask that you pay special attention to harvest equipment on the roads and keep your children and dogs close by. Not all of our trucks are painted bright red.
Most of all, just relax and tour the farm with one of our beers. We’ll do all the work getting it from bine to bottle.