Brewmaster’s Log – Day Three of Hop Harvest Week 2016

This week our Brewmaster, Jeremy, and a few other folks from the brewery are out in Yakima Valley, Washington, where they’re meeting with hop farmers, checking out this year’s harvest and selecting the hops we’ll be brewing with in the coming year. To bring you an inside look at the hop harvest process, Jeremy will be logging a recap each day this week – shared with members of the Cadre first!

Jeremy’s Day Three Recap: 

Hey, Cadre! It was a long day and, as I type this, we’re heading into a long night of catching up with some industry friends. I’ve asked our Lead Brewer, Dave Powell, to step in and give you the lowdown on our day. Here it is:

Another beautiful day in Yakima Valley! We started out the day in Moxee with our good friends over at CLS farms. This was an important visit because we were selecting a large portion of our Centennial hops, which find their way into both Centennial IPA and our new seasonal, PC Pils. We were handed two brewer’s cuts and proceeded with the hop rub. Each cut had a some very distinct characteristics that all of us really enjoyed, so we decided this would be a perfect opportunity to blend each lot to create the best of both. Solid fruity and floral balance.

hop fields

Following our brewer’s cut hop rub was a brief tour of the CLS processing facility. It was very similar to most of the facilities we have seen, however they were the first farm we visited that has implemented the Wolf drying process. This is a German drying process that uses lots of automation and control during the process to create a more uniform dryness to the hop cones before bailing. CLS is one of two farms in the valley that uses this method to dry their hops and they’re very excited to dial it in in the coming years.

Dave Engbers taking a video of hops poured into a pile

Just a few miles down the road from CLS is Roy Farms, producers of the Azacca hops we showcase in Azacca IPA. They’re the only farm in the valley currently growing this varietal. I have to mention that Roy Farms is one of the largest hop producers in the country, with over 3,400 acres of hops! This is in addition to all of the apples, cherries, blueberries, and everything else that is produced there. Roy Farms is also unique in that that they do most of their pelletizing on site. They remove the bailing process and simply send the hops from a conditioning room right to hop pelletization. From the minute the hop is picked from the field and packaged in pellet form is about a 24 to 36-hour process. Impressive! Our Azacca hops are Roy Fresh!

workers talking

The final stop of the day was Hopsteiner. This was a bit of a hike from Roy Farms, but it was totally worth the drive. We wanted to see Hopsteiner’s new facility that basically opened at the beginning of this year’s harvest. Their facility was probably one of the more impressive I’ve seen yet. As a German based hop company, they use German equipment and process exclusively. Something unique to Hopsteiner is that they use a Combine in the field that actually begins the picking process. As opposed to just cutting the hop bine from the trellis and bringing it to the processing facility to begin picking and separation, they being picking in the field in an effort to decrease their carbon footprint. They are also growing some pretty cool experimental varieties that are smelling really good right now.

hop vines

hops in a facility

After another long day of visiting farms and processing facilities it was time to wrap it up and relax. We joined some of our industry friends for a nice dinner and talked harvest. Of course we had to have a few more at the Sportcenter before we called it a night. Another busy day in the books and looking forward to more tomorrow. Check out a few photos from today and stay tuned, Cadre!

hops poured into a pile

green hop dust on hands

smelling hops

exterior of hops facility

hops on a conveyor

hop fields and a dirt road

two people checking hop vines

hop fields

brewer standing in front of green hops

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