Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ringing in Harvest Season by Picking Hops

Yesterday's hop harvest at Hopworks Urban Brewery was a very fitting way to usher in September, fall and the best time of year for brewers - the hop harvest. Coincidentally, it was also harvest day for the McMenamins breweries. Called the "Running of the Brewers", it's a marathon of a day starting with the bines coming out of the Sodbuster Farms fields in the morning followed by a mad rush for seven drivers who delivered 1,120 lbs of fresh Simcoe hops to 20 McMenamins brewing locations for this year's Thundercone. Many photos and videos documented the event on their Instagram account.

Back to Hopworks, a smaller scale operation, but one that annually invites the public to come help with the harvest of the estate-grown hops from the SE location. Picking hops is a fairly mindless task but what makes it fun is meeting and chatting with the other harvest helpers. This year I was seated next to a couple of gentlemen from Oregon City and as usual when craft beer drinkers get together, we had no problem keeping the conversation going during the four hours of picking.

The hops that the group picked were a combination of an experimental variety that currently has the unfancy name of X17 and Willamette and Cascade hops from their backyard. In total 94.9 pounds went into the brew kettle to create Estate IPA, a beer that is the fresh hop version of the classic Hopworks IPA. The fresh hop beer will be available in two to three weeks and when it is I plan to get down there to do a side-by-side tasting of the Estate IPA and its classic cousin.

If you, too, want to get your hands dirty (literally - your hands will get dirty and sticky and you'll LIKE it), mark your calendar for next Tuesday. That's when the SE location of the Lucky Lab will be holding their community harvest. Everyone is invited to help pick the fresh hops off the bines, a combination of ones grown by Lucky Lab, homebrewers and drinkers across the city. The conglomeration of many varieties of hops will be used for the 11th annual brewing of The Mutt.

Lucky Lab
915 SE Hawthorne
Tuesday, September 8th starting at 4:00 pm

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