Nothing but Flowers

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hawksbill Hop Yards - Location Hint

While we have been making solid progress on the hop  yards these last few months, we haven't exactly let on yet where it is located.  On Saturday afternoon I took a drive over to get a photo of the yards from a distance - to give a bit more of a locational perspective.

In the photo here, the yards is the cleared area in the middle ground.  That's Kennedy Peak on the Massanutten ridge in the background.  Of course, we are just north of Luray and probably about a mile from the Caverns.

That's about all we're prepared to reveal for now, but there will be more news soon enough.

On another note, David told me that our irrigation is in last week - we posted some photos of that as well.  Last weekend the temps dipped to 19 degrees - quite a surprise for March, by the way - so he turned the water on at a trickle overnight to protect the set-up.

The pretty little icy scene at right was the result, but everything was fine overnight.

I hope our friends at Wisteria fared as well in the frost - I'll get by to check in with them next weekend.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Visit to Atlas Brew Works

After taking care of a little business at Hawksbill Hop Yards this weekend - more on that tomorrow - I came back to Alexandria early to join Mary at a birthday happy hour for our friend Kathy over at Atlas Brew Works, in SE DC.  This was to be my first visit at this brewery, web site here, and I was looking forward to it.    

Thanks to Siri's directions, we arrived with almost no hitches, although the convenient location of this brewery makes it easy enough to find.  They'd set up a little party area for us off to the side of the bar in the tasting area - some snacks, and quick and easy access to the taps.

For myself, I had the Rowdy, described as a hop forward Rye at 6.2%.  Checking the ingredients - I see Bravo, Zythos, and Centennial hops...Bravo is a high alpha bittering hops and is probably the biggest contributor to the hoppiness of this beer, while Zythos and Centennial are more medium alpha varieties, complementing the Bravo for flavor and less bitterness.  Of course, the rye malt offsets some of the alpha strength of the combo.

I have to admit, now that the hop yards is in progress, I am paying more attention to the ingredients and brewing craft in these breweries.  In fact, I did a quick scan of the list of hops on the menu and didn't see any of Hawksbill Hop Yards varieties - and thought to myself that maybe from now on every brewery visit will become market research.  Such is life.

The brewery is housed in an old industrial building, where they have made good use of the loading dock and open warehouse space for the 40BBL brewery and supporting functions.  This was probably the 10th brewery I've visited since last May (the Northern California Beer Pilgrimage/Marathon, as Mary likes to call it) - so I'm getting to know my way around.  We had a great time checking things out.

And the beer was really good, so it will be one I keep an eye out for when we're out and about, especially since they've recently gotten distribution into Virginia.  It was a nice affair for Kathy's birthday - a great idea for a place to celebrate, and a great way to conclude the weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring and Hops

Last weekend we made it back our to Hawksbill Cabin for the first time in a few weeks.  Along with errands, high on our list of things to do was a stop at the Hop Yards.

Our field has come a long way since we first began this project in January - Mary and David are in the cleared field in the first photo, but back in January, it was a lot different when Dan and David walked along the road in front of it (link here).

The other big development for the weekend was the arrival of irrigation to the field - David put in a few hours Saturday to connect it up.  Hops need water, and now we have the source and distribution.

I guess all we need now is a trellis.  And some hops.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Black Helicopters at SBUX

Yesterday morning as I was walking over to my neighborhood Starbucks in Bethesda, I heard the sound of approaching helicopters.  Because of our perch on the palisades over the Potomac, it's not unusual to have a executive sortie flyby, or even larger, squadron-sized groups pass overhead using the river as a navigation guide.

What struck me about these three are the large auxiliary fuel tanks they were carrying - obviously they were setting out on a long range voyage.

I decided to make the rest of the day tactical as a result.  I think I was a success.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

First Spring Visit to Wisteria

The vines are gathering their strength for the year.  The
mountain behind is in Shenandoah National Park.
There was still a crisp edge to the spring mornings this weekend, but both days were sunny and pleasant.  On Sunday after a few errands we decided to make a stop by our neighbors Sue and Moussa at Wisteria Vineyards - we had a wine club selection to pick up, and we decided we might make a picnic lunch to enjoy there for a break.

We learned that a photographer had been around researching a shoot later that day, and Sue invited us back in the afternoon so that there would be a few people around in case he needed subjects in the photos.  So we took care of a few more errands and returned, just as the sunlight was turning golden, low in the sky.  I took advantage of it myself for the Instagram photos accompanying this post.

The sheep were a little perturbed by all the people in the pasture,
but they got over it once they made their way to the rations.

There was a good crowd of old friends and acquaintances when we arrived at around 5:30, and the photographer was out in the fields setting up his location.  Just then the sun hit a perfect angle, bathing the entire scene in a golden light, and ten or so of us headed out for the shoot.

Wisteria features a charming little road that runs through the vineyard to Little Hawksbill Creek.  It dips and rises over uneven ground and is marked off from the vines with a plank fence made from cedars that were cleared from the property.  This formed the setting for the photography.

After a few minutes of waiting, the sun was exactly right, and the photographer called us to walk down the road in pairs and threes.

We had a preview of some of the shots - there's no doubt he has a publishable one in the mix.  The results of his work are due to appear in Wine Speculator in June, and some of the other Valley venues will be there, too.  He said he'd likely take in DuCard over in Sperryville and the Copper Fox Distillery in order to complement the work he'd done at Wisteria.

Just another Valley weekend though, when you get down to it - there's always a pleasant adventure out there if you keep your eyes open for it!