Ramble On

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sunday Hops Picking in Luray

A great big Cascade cone.
A few weeks ago Mary and I went to visit our friend Bill in Luray.  He and his wife host happy hours out in the yard while the music plays down at the plaza on Friday nights, and we were lucky enough to be out for one of those summer evenings.

Bill planted some hop rhizomes in the backyard last year, all Cascades from Dan - this is their second year and the bines are really producing for him.  He was at the bicycle race on Saturday and told me he was planning to pick on Sunday if I wanted to come by.  So I did.

It turned out that another friend from the neighborhood, John, was there to help as well.  I figured we could make it quick with three hands working.  They had chosen a Lagunitas offering as the official refreshment, so - so much the better!

We packaged the fresh hops in 14 one
gallon freezer bags.
John and Bill instructing me on how
to pick hops.
We picked the cones directly from the bines for a half hour, then I asked Bill if he expected another harvest this year, or if this was going to be the only one.  He said just this once, so we decided to cut the bines down and pick them while sitting around a table - the work went quickly then, to the sound of good tunes and tall tales.

Tragedy struck when we ran out of Lagunitas, but these resourceful guys had a fallback, and we finished the job with Yuengling.

With some of Bill's harvest from last year I made a batch of "Tax Day IPA" - there are still a few bottles left.  The first year Cascades delivered a beer that is right on the threshold on IBUs for an IPA - around 55.  Bill still had a few ounces of those left, and he offered them to me - I will use them to dry hop a Black IPA that is just about ready to go to secondary fermentation.

We picked enough hops to fill 14 one-gallon freezer bags.  I might not be handling these correctly, but I've put them all directly into the freezer.  I just ordered the ingredients for two more five-gallon batches of Black IPA, and plan to wet hop those with part of this crop.  I estimate I'll need six ounces of fresh/frozen hops for every one ounce of dried or pelletized hops called for in the recipe.

In the meantime, there will be 15 gallons of beer laying around, all made with local hops!

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