In the world of beer, the end of summer means one thing: it’s time for the hop harvest.
The hops are picked over just a few weeks around the end of August and beginning of September, and they begin to decompose within just 24 hours, which means breweries have a narrow window once a year to snag the fresh cones for special release beers. The rest of the crop is dried and pelletized to preserve it for future use.
Mother Road made the most of the occasion by traveling up to Colorado to pick up 110 pounds of freshly harvested hops from Paonia-based High Wire Hops. The trip provided the opportunity to complete the circle between farmer and final product, Mother Road production manager Campbell Morrissy said.
“I enjoy the fact that we’re connecting with the people who grow the ingredients we end up putting in our beer,” Campbell said.
“We added our entire haul of Cascade, Chinook and Columbus hops into a wet hop ale, giving it an intense flavor boost.”
The final product is an India Red Ale in the ‘mid-90’s’ style with grapefruit, pine and resin on the nose and a strong malt backbone. Look for it on tap at the brewery starting on Labor Day.
David Warren is the Farm Owner and Manager at High Wire Hops.
Mother Road camped next to the hops fields.
Our hops at harvest are first cut down by machete.
The hop bines are fed into a thresher that separates hop cones from stems and leaves.
As hop cones come out of the thresher, people pick through removing any remaining leaves or debris.
Hops drop into a large bag as they come off the conveyor belt.
Most of the hops are dried to a carefully monitored percentage of moisture before being pelletized (you can see the drying room at High Wire above), a small percentage of whole cone hops are purchased by breweries like ours to brew fresh hop ales within 24 hours of picking.
See you soon to enjoy this special beer!