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Shovels, Buckets And Digging For Beer

The first rite of spring at Rogue Farms is one of the dirtiest chores of the year.


Today, we’re in the hopyard digging up rhizomes. It’s a hard job in the best of conditions. Because of all the rain we received last week, it’s a mess.

A shovel to dig up the rhizome, a knife to cut it away from the roots. This job can only be done by hand.
A shovel to dig up the rhizome, a knife to cut it away from the roots. This job can only be done by hand.

The typical hop bine lives for 10-15 years. But a hopyard is built to last for many decades. For a hopyard to be productive throughout its lifetime, older bines are dug up, removed and replaced with younger plants.

Mother Nature provides us with a simple way to do that. We dig up healthy rhizomes, split them, and then replant. That way we know the new bines are an exact copy of what we’re already growing. Farmers and gardeners have used this propagation technique going back centuries.

Digging rhizomes in the Revolution hop section of Rogue Farms.
Digging rhizomes in the Revolution hop section of Rogue Farms.

Why not let our hops propagate themselves? Hops are like people, their offspring isn’t an exact replica of the parents. You could start out with rows of only Alluvial hops. But after a few generations, new strains of random varieties would start to take over.

That would make the job of brewing our world class Rogue beers pretty much impossible. Brewmaster John Maier personally selected the seven varieties of hops we grow here at Rogue Farms. Each year we grow and harvest Alluvial, Freedom, Independent, Liberty, Rebel, Revolution and Yaquina hops, because those are the hops John wants for our ales, porters, lagers and stouts.

Even when the weather isn’t perfect, this is a great time of year to visit Rogue Farms. The bines are emerging, the Prickless Marionberries are budding. Soon we’ll be stringing and staking the hopyard. Drop in and join us for another year of growing beers, spirits, ciders and sodas from Ground To Glass.

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