Of the four major ingredients in beer, hops are unique. There’s a lot of things you can make with barley, water and yeast. But if hops are in the recipe? Chances are 99.6% you’re brewing beer.
It’s unusual to see a crop grown for just one purpose the way that hops are grown exclusively for beer. But imagine how different you’re favorite beverage would taste without the bitterness, aroma and flavors we get from Humulus lupulus.
Before you quaff your next beer, here some things to know about hops from us at Rogue Farms.
Hops Are Females
In the wild, hops are both female and male plants. But at Rogue Farms we only grow females.
The practice began long ago because brewers pay for hops by the pound, and they didn’t want to pay extra for hops that were weighed down with seeds – aka fertilized hops.
Hop growers, including us, will go to great lengths to make sure male bines don’t accidentally appear in the hopyard. During winter, we aggressively hunt down and remove male rhizomes so that the cones we grow won’t have seeds. Funny thing is, this process happens to be called, “rogueing.”
What’s Inside A Cone?
Some will tell you that a cone is the female hop flower, but that’s misleading. Cones grow from flowers, and are a type of strobile. That makes them similar in structure to cones from pine, cypress and fir trees.
Most of us know about lupulin, the yellow sticky stuff with the oils and resins that give bitterness, aroma and flavor to beer. But all parts of the cone, including the strig, bracteole and bracts make some contributions, too. That’s why Rogue likes to brew with the whole cone, instead of buying lupulin extract from someone else.
Alpha Vs Aroma
Most craft brewers and hop growers make a big deal about alpha hops versus aroma hops. But at Rogue Farms we don’t care about these kinds of distinctions.
In the hands of a legend like Rogue Brewmaster John Maier, our hops can be both bitter and aromatic. It all depends on how and when John decides to use them in the recipe. Our hops are like the spices on a spice rack with John as the master chef.
Come Join Us For The Hop Harvest
This year’s Rogue Farms hop harvest is expected to begin in the new few weeks. This is absolutely the best time to visit the farm to see how we grow beer from ground to glass. You may even see John himself strolling through the hop rows and the processing plant, deciding which cones we wants to brew this year’s batch of Wet Hop Ale.
Whether it’s by car, bike, canoe, kayak or plane, come to Rogue Farms this summer and see how we Grow and Harvest the Revolution!