Friday, August 3, 2012

Monster Vines Planted By Hop'n Blueberry Farm Produce Record Crop

Cascade bines at Highland Brewery
Highland Brewery in Asheville ask me if I would plant and manage some hops in front of the brewery this year.  I agreed to do so and got to work organizing the planting beds for their landscaper.  They got it all prepared by March and I ordered up some cascades and some zues rhizomes. 

The plants struggled early in the season, part of the problem was that we received a bad batch of rhizomes that were shipped out.  I pulled most of them out and replaced them with rhizomes with my Hop'n Blueberry rhizomes.  I spent several days watching the growth and adding some secret ingredients that I have learned over the years.

Then the spurt began, after the last prune in May.  It was non-stop growth.  Almost unnatural.  The soil and additives seemed to all kick in at once. 
Zues vines are monsters
After looking these monsters over, I decided it was time for harvest.  I didn't know how many hops I was looking at on their vines.  I knew for sure it was over two pounds, and thought it could be more.  Highlands wanted to make a "wet hop" beer, but are not completely set up for it, so they decided on an end of boil aroma saturation.

We decided to add hops form the Hop'n Blueberry for the bulk and and then to add the rest of the amount from Highlands hop vines, at least I thought.  Cascades were the only variety picked.  Tasting Room Manager, Grant DaSantos, and master brewer John Lyda, came over to the farm Wednesday afternoon to help me harvest.
Grant DaSantos shows off 5 lbs of HnB's hops including a 3 incher
We harvested five pounds from my ancient four-year old cascades in the grueling hot afternoon sun and celebrated with a few of Highlands famous bottles of brew. That ended Wednesday's work. 

The following day, Grant and a small crew proceeded to harvest cascade cones from 3 vines.  That's when the phone call came in from Grant.  I had requested that Grant weigh the hops from each vine separately.  "You won't believe this", he started off.
"We got seven pounds off of the first vine!" 

Yep, I have never heard of this kind of output from any bine planted in WNC.  In fact, our standards have only been around 12 oz. per bine.  Wow, I am still wondering if the scales are right, but, even the smallest looking bines were still producing two pounds apiece, and they also looked spectacular.

More to come!!

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