Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hop Madness

My dad called me on Friday, sounding almost as if one of my brothers had died, or something. I wasn't able to talk to him right then, so he left a message. I called him right back and it turns out that this thing called Hop Madness was going on. A bunch of homebrewers get together and celebrate the hop harvest here in the Pacific Northwest. It was happening Saturday. No wonder he sounded serious.

So, QueenJaymz and I checked the books and we could afford to go. You pay $15 to get in, pitch a tent, and relax and enjoy. We couldn't stay overnight, a fact we would soon regret.

We arrived with nothing to eat or drink, however, we never went for want of a single thing. There were so many homebrewers with their fresh brewed beer on tap. People had brought food to cook and share. A professional chef/homebrewer had brought his smoker and had smoked ribs, chorizo and turkey. I ate until I about exploded.

A big draw for us to go was that you could pick your own hops for free! Hop prices have increased 400% over the last year. That means we're paying about $8-10 per two ounces of hops. It takes two or three of them to make a batch of beer. That would be even more expensive than the barley. That just makes me sick to think about.

So, we spent about 4 of the 8+ hours we hung out there picking hops. Here's a shot of my dad and QueenJaymz working on the vines of Chinook hops there.

We also picked a ton of Mt. Hood hops (one of our favorite varieties). In total, we left with five large paper grocery bags full. That would be equal to between $200 and $400 worth of hops. It was hard to believe that, for the majority of the later afternoon, we were the only ones picking the hops. We earned the respect of those around us. People were bringing us beer as we picked, without us even having to ask or beg. We got lots of comments about what die-hards we were. We won't need to buy hops for the next year, at least, and we'll pick greedily next year, too.

The other cool thing we got to do is take a tour of a nearby hop field, owned by a third generation farmer, and the hop processing facility. I'll give you a few notes so you'll know what you're staring at (at least, to the extent that I knew), but I will let the pictures do most of their own talking.

These rows are of the Mt. Hood variety of hops.

(I couldn't get this stupid picture to turn sideways)

They hang the vines on this conveyor thing and it takes the vines over to this piece of machinery that separates the clusters from the main vine.

This is inside one of the processors.

This is where a conveyor dumps the hops into the drying/kilning room. I liked how this action shot came out.

Aren't they gorgeous?

Take the circle off the middle of the face, and this just might be my first tat. This drawing was on a board that was a barrier to the kilning/drying room. I love it!

Here's us goofing off next to the hop drying area. We had a great time.

This is us next to the largest pile of hops I've ever seen. They've been harvested and dried, and they are just awaiting being put into huge bales (1 ton). Someone was nice enough to offer to take our picture.


R said...

You guys are totally cute.

And you are a real, bona fide, crazy beer guy. Like Norm, but more sophisticated.

I have never heard of hops. Of course I have never looked into making my own beer; I am too busy making my own soap!! :)

Looks like you had fun!!!

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

Must have been nice to escape from reality for a few hours...looks like a great time was had.

Jan Parrish said...

I love all the pictures. Sounds like a lot of fun. What a couple of cuties you are. BTW, you've been tagged.

Dapoppins said...

It looks like you built a memory here. That's always good.

And I had no idea that picking hops was so fun. Your wife...she amazes me.