I checked in with Eric and Loran out at Sulphur Creek Farm today. The hops are really thriving this year! With all the rain mixed with plenty of sunshine, they are way ahead of last year. The row of about 25 Cascade-variety plants are already budded-out with huge cones, and smell great already. They may be ready for harvest in about a month, amazingly.
The bigger field of our "mystery hop" is doing great too, with almost all of the 150 or so plants coming up. The rhizomes that bore cones last year were divided up and the new plantings are doing well. The two-year old rhizomes already have vines that have reached 17' or so and have good buds coming out. This variety snoozed last year until late August, when the cones popped out in what seemed like two weeks! That's probably the time frame for this year too.
We are so lucky to have our partnership with Sulphur Creek Farm on growing these beautiful hops. I can't describe how rejuvenating it is to be able to walk a field filled with the very herb that we love in our Pale Ale and Hop Projects. It really brings home the fact that as brewers, we and our beers are only as good as the ingredients that go into what we create. Here lately my life has been all about long days filled with finicky bottling lines, undersized air compressors, balky CO2 refrigeration systems, and other mechanical problems, but walking up and down rows of beautiful hops and crushing a few ripe cones between my fingers, and smelling the fragrant lupulin, really brings me back to Earth. Cheers!