INDEPENDENCE,OR – Clearly, Rogue Brewmaster John Maier loves his hops.
Whether he’s choosing the fresh picked Freedom and Yaquina hops that he’ll use to brew this year’s batch of Wet Hop Ale, or sniffing the cones as they come out of the kiln, Maier is right at home.
Rogue Farms has been growing it’s own hops since 2008 on a 42-acre hopyard overlooking the Willamette River in the Wigrich Appellation. This is the oldest hops growing region in Oregon, with the state’s first hopyard planted nearby in 1867.
So, why grow your own hops? Rogue became farmers partly out of necessity. A world wide hop crisis the year before sent prices soaring and brewers scrambling for whatever hops they could get. Some of the more unusual varieties of hops were in danger of disappearing altogether.
Rogue wanted to make sure that not only did it have enough hops, but it had enough of the varieties that it needed. Nobody dare tell John Maier that he wasn’t going to get all the hops he wanted to craft Rogue ales, lagers, porters and stouts.
A lot has changed since 2008. U. S. hop production is on the upswing. Growers are planting greater acres of Aroma hops to meet the demands of craft brewers, but Rogue still grows it’s own.
Rogue grows seven varieties of hops to create a proprietary palate of flavors and aromas. Each variety is like a spice in a spice rack. Their flavors include floral, herbal and citrus. Some come on strong with aroma while others have bitterness with an attitude. John Maier blends them all together like a master chef.
Rogue expects to begin picking its Rebel variety of hops on Thursday ,September 4th. From the moment the bines are cut off the trellis wires they are driven 147 feet to a processing facility on the farm where the cones are stripped, separated, sorted, kilned,cooled and pressed into 200 pound bales.
Here’s the calendar for the rest of the Rogue hop harvest season. Exact times and dates to be determined by Mother Nature.
Liberty hops – Saturday, September 6th
Revolution hops – Tuesday, September 9th
Alluvial hops-Thursday, September 11th
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