One of our winter chores at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon is finding and removing unwanted hop plants. You see, some bines grow up to be completely useless. They lie around all day, using up precious resources and don’t produce any of the lupulin we use to make beer.
They are the males of the species.
A brief botany lesson. Hops are dioecious, they are either male or female.
As farmers/fermenters, we’re only interested in the female hops. They produce the cones and the lupulin that give beer its flavor, bitterness and aroma. They do it without any help from the males.
When males are present and the females are pollinated, they’ll grow cones with seeds. That’s exactly what we don’t want. Hop seeds can give beer a bad flavor, especially in the floral varieties. They create problems when hops are stored and frankly, add only dead weight to the cones. So while males are necessary for hops to survive in the wild, they’re no good for farming and brewing.
In the months to come we’ll start pulling up female rhizomes. Some will be used to replace older bines. Others will be sent to the greenhouse where they’ll grow and become the next generation of Rogue Farms hops.
Being an agricultural brewery, we at Rogue Farms work year round to ensure that we grow the highest quality hops, malting barley, rye, honey, pumpkins and other ingredients for our World Class ales, lagers, stouts, porters, mead, kolsch and spirits. It’s part of our commitment to create a proprietary palate for Brewmaster John Maier so he can craft unique ales, porters, lagers, stouts and spirits of distinction.
Farm tours are available every season. Please join us at Rogue Farms in Independence and Tygh Valley to see how we grow beer and spirits.