Well it’s been a while since I’ve done an update. Imagine that, a Portland Brewer busy in Summer. Who’d a thunk?? Anyway today was another epic day in the life of a Brewer. I had the great pleasure of heading south in to the Willamette valley to BC Hop Farms to pick up some freshly harvested Liberty hops. We’ll be using these hops for our annual fresh hop beer. This year we’re also going to mix it up a little and make a lager with the hops instead of an ale. Lagers are the future, people!!! Look for this beer at the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus as well as the Fresh Hop Festivals that will be popping up around Oregon next month (dates here). Liberty hops are an American variety that are “Noble” in aroma and flavor. The term Noble refers to the hops that Liberty was bred from. Liberty will give a clean, spicy and slight lemon character to the beer. They also are fairly common in lagers.
When we arrived I was greeted by Bill. He is one of 3 brothers who run BC Hop Farms. I later met up with Charlie and Bruce. Bill toured me through operation with great enthusiasm. I’m assuming this was in part due to the fact that hop harvest is almost done for the season. However I quickly learned that these 3 brothers have a great passion for hop farming. Farming is such a thankless job. Next time you see any farmer out there; give them a big hug! It might a little awkward, but do it anyways! After touring the harvesting facility we headed over to the hop kilns and met up with Charlie and Bruce. Man, I wish I had “Smell-o-vision” for you all, because it smelled so awesome! They had 6 bins of kilning at various stages of dryness. Hops will kiln dry till they have about 8-10% moisture. After the kilns we headed in to check out the bailing facility. Wow, we walked into a room with mountains of hops that were roughly 20-30 feet high. I resisted the urge to dive in even though I was encouraged to do so by Bill and Charlie. After this we headed out to the field where they were just finishing up this year’s Liberty harvest. It’s quite the operation in the field. There are 2 guys with hedge trimmers that cruise down the rows and slice the lower part of the trellis. They are followed by a truck and a “Mad Max” looking machine that chops the vines at the top of the trellis. All in all BC Hop Farms have 350 acres of hops. They grow Centennials, Cascades, Nuggets, Willamette’s and Liberty.
We got back to harvesting facility bagged up 30lbs of Liberty hops as they were just coming off the conveyor to the kiln. The highlight for me of this whole adventure was all they wanted for the hops were a couple cases of beer! Frankly this is how I like to do business! The look on Bill face when I opened the back of truck was great. You see, a “couple” of cases to me means at least 8 or 9. I know that I can sleep better at night knowing that when this harvest season is done they’ll be sitting on the porch of their farm house sipping down a cold Widmer Brothers Beer!