Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lucky Lab Hop Harvest - More Than Just Manual Labor

Fresh hop season is in full swing, the time of year when the mature hops are brought in from the field, filling the air with their most delicious scent and filling my Twitter feed with images of their glorious green color. Large commercial operations utilize machines to strip the hop cones from the hop bines (yes, it's actually bines, not vines) but as those who grow hops in their yards know hand harvesting is a labor-intensive process. However, just like home brewing, hand harvesting is made more fun by inviting some friends over and imbibing while the work goes on.

The Lucky Lab puts on their own hop harvest every fall, inviting whoever would like to immerse themselves in the aroma of fresh hops, and by night's end hands made sticky and dirty by the hop resins, to come to their Hawthorne pub. Some of the hops are theirs while others are contributed by people coming to pick. What results is an incomprehensible number of varieties of hops that will all be used together to brew "The Mutt."

Last night was the first year I took part in this event, having been busy or simply missing it in the past. I arrived early to find the tables laden with hops and groups of two or three getting to work. As the evening progressed the patio filled with more people and eventually the tide seemed to turn, progress on whittling down the piles of hop bines being made.

I'm always happy to lend a hand, especially when my help is going to result in beer being produced, but the best part of the event was the coming together of many beer friends I hadn't seen for some time. And as much as the labor of many hands helps the Lucky Lab harvest local hops for a fresh hop brew I think they too understand that this is a great way to bring the community of beer lovers together.

Good luck to Ben as he gets to work brewing this year's version of The Mutt today. I'm sure I'm one of many who is looking forward to tasting the beer in a few weeks.

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