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Training Our Hops

In a previous post we showed folks how we string and stake our hopyard, one of the most important chores at Rogue Farms.

The next step in the journey from bine to brew is training our hops to climb the strings.

Hop bines grow in clumps. We choose the two or three best looking bines for training.
Hop bines grow in clumps. We choose the two or three best looking bines for training.

Hops grow best with abundant sunshine, which we have plenty of during the summer here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Training bines to climb strings gets them off the ground where it’s damp, and closer to the sun they so desperately crave.

We wind the bines clockwise around a string, higher and higher until we run out of bine. With the bine in place, its natural ability to climb will take over from here.
We wind the bines clockwise around a string, higher and higher until we run out of bine. With the bine in place, its natural ability to climb will take over from here.

How do bines climb? They have stiff hairs that cling to the string as they pull themselves upwards.

The hairs are so tiny you’ll have trouble seeing them. But rub your bare hand on them in the wrong direction and you’ll feel a burn.

A trained bine on a hopyard string. We use a string called coir which is made from Sri Lanka coconut husks. The coarse material makes it easy for the bines to grab hold and climb.
A trained bine on a hopyard string. We use a string called coir which is made from Sri Lanka coconut husks. The coarse material makes it easy for the bines to grab hold and climb.

In this next video, you’ll see how it all happens in a just a matter of seconds.

With 63,637 strings in our 42-acre hopyard, even a simple chore like training a bine becomes time-consuming and difficult.

There’s no machine, no shortcut to make it easier on us. So we return to the hopyard every spring and train our bines. It’s worth it because we want to grow the best tasting hops we can for Brewmaster John Maier to craft our world-class ales, porters, lagers, stouts, kolsch and braggot.

Come to Rogue Farms this spring. Our honeybees are buzzing; the hops, rye, wheat and corn are growing; we just planted our pumpkins; our jalapeños are in the greenhouse; and our marionberries will go into the ground any day now. See how we grow our beers, spirits, ciders and sodas!

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