September 10, 2013

From Field to Bottle

The 2013 harvest has all wrapped up! It was sad to see the bines cut-down, just a shadow of their former glory, and awaiting their frosty demise. Along with the brief sadness came overwhelming excitement for what next spring will bring. The first year plants each yielded an average of 1.5 dry ounces; I hear it is lucky to get any yield in the first year so I was over the moon!

We achieved two main goals over the weekend. The first, and probably most important was that we picked our first year crop and avoided any spoilage. All hands were on deck for this operation with four people working the afternoon away - well, about 4 hours anyway. The secondary goal was to clear and grade an acre of land for future use. Visit the-hop-yard page for more information on how that went.

The cones dried overnight and were vacuum sealed into 1 and 4 ounce packages the following day. All in all, it was an excellent, fun-filled weekend and a great learning experience for all involved. It is difficult to imagine how we will deal with a larger yield next year but I'm sure we will think of something! This year's harvest hardly fits into my freezer, which is a definite problem in need of a solution for next year.

As soon as I returned home, I finished up the "In-Threes Ale" by adding an ounce of freshly-picked Cascade for dry hopping. I will likely bottle this batch this coming weekend if I get a spare moment. This is the first time that I have used fresh whole-leaf hops and the beer looks and already smells amazing! As usual, it will be difficult to let this one age out completely.

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