Wednesday, September 3, 2008

English hop harvest not good?

A very wet August in the English hop-growing areas (which are pretty damned small these days) is apparently leading to a small harvest, according to Gerard Lemmens, renowned (and retired) hops expert. Not the kind of news small brewers -- particularly Brit hops-loving east coast small brewers -- were hoping to hear.

5 comments:

David Curran said...

George Orwell describes hop picking on his blog*. He goes into more detail in this essay^.

This goes to show that hops have always been a difficult business and that everyone both living and dead will eventually have a beer blog.


*http://orwelldiaries.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/august-25-preston-hall/
^http://www.theorwellprize.co.uk/the-award/works/orwellessayhoppicking.aspx

sam k said...

As an aside, I went picking wild hops with a friend two weeks ago, and it brought to mind the various breweries that are growing their own to offset current market conditions.

My friend and I spent two hours picking from a massive group of vines that have taken control of a cyclone fence, with hop cones hanging everywhere. Two hours, two men. Four man-hours, and all we managed to pick was one paper grocery bag of (low grade) hops for some homebrew. Good luck to all those brewers hoping to make a dent in their hops costs...you'll have to pick for days just to make a 15 barrel batch of commercial brew.

Way too much effort spent outside the brewery, IMHO.

Adam said...

I hear ya. Last year it took the better part of a day to get two 6.5 gal buckets mostly full. The yield was about 22 oz of dried whole leaf. That was enough to split between two people and do a few batches.

It really depends on how you view your brewing. I was very happy to have homegrown hops with no pesticides.

Will I grow enough to brew all my beer. No. For one thing I don't grow enough varieties.

---Guy said...

Yup, I'm amazed by the number of people and breweries who are thinking of growing hops on a small commercial scale. I wonder if they have a true understanding of the costs and labor needed to do it properly.

When people ask me if I'm planning to grow hops for One Guy, I smile and say "I'm a brewer, not a farmer".

mybeerbuzz said...

I've been growing my own hops for years, and I have to say I'm surprised more mid-sized brewers like Rogue and Sierra Nevada were not growing their own already. My ealry micro-brew experiences came from the likes of Weeping Radish, where they now grow their own everything for the most part. Rogue bought a hop farm, and even Weyerbacher is trying it out. Maybe I should be selling my harvest instead of just doing it for fun.