Limestone Creek Brewing Co.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hops, Hops, Hops, I like Hops....

The cutting, picking and drying of the 2nd year bines has begun! Bob and Joyce have been maintaining the plants and adding new ones all summer and they took down the more mature varieties (Cascade, Newport and Fuggle) two days ago.
Cascade variety planted summer 2012 - close to peak of ripeness!
The plants certainly aren't at full maturity, but we had a good growing season that led to a surprisingly robust crop compared to what we expected. No major pest problems, but they did use some Sulfur based herbicide to counteract possible Downy Mildew issues.

So, September 4th the bines were clipped and carted off to the barn where they were sorted into varietal piles. I began picking with the help of my assistants that evening, Zoe and Aggie. We started on the Cascade's since they looked to be the easiest to pick. There were large, well formed cones in big clusters - grabbing each hop by the base near the stem and "popping" them off wasn't too hard to figure out.
Our local workforce - Aggie and Zoe picking Cascade Hops
Nikki, Zoe, Riley and Joyce went at it the next day (Happy Rosh Shashna!) since we needed to get the hops off the bines and dried within 48 hours. They were able to get all of the Cascade and Newport picked and the first batch into the oast. I showed up that evening after work and got all of the Fuggle done. The Fuggle were dried up pretty good and not as easy to pick - we may want to cut that variety down first at an earlier date next year.

The hop kiln (oast) works great! We were able to insert a digital thermometer and determine that the high heat setting and low fan setting got the middle drawers to a toasty 94 degrees. The first batch should be done by the afternoon of the 6th and we can put the remaining hops in for the final batch. Can't wait to see how many dried hops we get!

Next week we'll start our first batch of LCB hop flavored beer! Thanks for stopping by!

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