Hippie Chicks Hops

May 8, 2012
Oh how we love to have company at the farm — people with enthusiasm towards good beer and everything that makes are as easy to come by in Palisade as mountain bikers! Julie’s new house mates at the farm are lovingly referred to by the Hippie Chicks as “The Bike Shop Boys.” Joel and Kyle — and their lively little cow dogs Sally & Alice — work at the local bike shop called Rapid Creek Cycles, and they are loving living on the farm! They invited friends from New Mexico to visit the farm and ride a few nearby trails. The newest edition to the farm is a “pump track.” Situated at the south end of the hops yard, the pump track features jumps, berms, and of course, a fire pit for evening gatherings!

Oh how we love to have company at the farm — people with enthusiasm towards good beer and everything that makes are as easy to come by in Palisade as mountain bikers! Julie’s new house mates at the farm are lovingly referred to by the Hippie Chicks as “The Bike Shop Boys.” Joel and Kyle — and their lively little cow dogs Sally & Alice — work at the local bike shop called Rapid Creek Cycles, and they are loving living on the farm! They invited friends from New Mexico to visit the farm and ride a few nearby trails. The newest edition to the farm is a “pump track.” Situated at the south end of the hops yard, the pump track features jumps, berms, and of course, a fire pit for evening gatherings!

May 1, 2012

We’re finally done stringing and are training like wild women! Here’s a beautiful row of our Chinooks trained & pruned. The “Weed Nazi” is back — armed and dangerous with her integrated organic pest management system and the might of dear friends on the business end of a shovel!

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April 28, 2012

Julie & Nicolette requested that the title of this post be: "Tony Rosario is the Most Wonderful Man in the World" and it shall be so.

Palisade resident and traveling musician, Tony Rosario, took time from his wildly busy schedule to help Julie (on camera duty), Wendy & Nicolette finish poking strings in the ground for the hops to climb up! This year we tied string to the trolley wires first from a scaffold lashed to the converted Winnebago. It seems to have worked swell. Sure don’t miss the days when we hand tossed the whole field from the GROUND!  It was awesome working eye level to top wire. Then we bundled the strings & wrapped them around the poles until we could poke them into ground. The BIG plus with was now we could cut first growth with a machine rather than by hand!

Julie’s brilliant idea of pre-hanging strings had a few flaws…occasionally the bundle blew up and over the trolley wires. Thank goodness Tony is tall & strong!

Tony founded a non-profit called Solider Songs, which provides instruments and lessons, as well as opportunities for jam sessions with military veterans. Check out his original tunes here. A benefit concert and BBQ for this organization will be held at the farm closer to harvest time. Stay tuned for details!

April 12, 2012

You know what they say about getting kids “started early” enjoying the finer things in life… well this little cutie is well on her way to becoming a beer connoisseur with a refined palate and a sincere appreciation for all of the work and good energy that goes into each of the quality ingredients in a Colorado microbrew. We have the utmost faith that this experience on the farm will stick in her mind and she will know from the moment she turns 21, that life is much too short to drink cheap beer! ;) Baby Sophie has been christened “The Youngest Hippie Chick.” Although she will not be able to sample the final product for about 20 years, she sure enjoyed hanging out on the farm and investigating the new spring growth of the hops plants up close! Sophie traveled to the farm with her parents Jeff & Rayanne Jones, who also brought a crew of firefighters with them! No worries, no fires here. 

The firefighters from Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District in Breckenridge, CO made the trip over to help out the Hippie Chicks with the first irrigation of the season….it’s a bear alright! Every foot of each 490 ft. row has to be cleared after the creasing. HOLY HOPS!! — That means these guys dug 11,000 feet of ditches — what a nice Palisade vacation for them, eh? The Hippie Chicks and Chief Austin cannot thank Jeff Jones, Clint Maas, Drew Hoehn, Tom Norrdin, and Ryan Doyle enough! It must have been nice for the crew to spend some time outside of the firehouse together, enjoying the Palisade sunshine — and of course the Palisade beer together! To us, there’s really nothing better than spring time on the farm, and we SO enjoy sharing it with visitors.

December 16, 2011

The release of Mountain Standard, Odell’s Double Black IPA brewed with Hippie Chicks Hops, fueled our excitement for winter clean up and has us excited for next season and we just can’t stay away from the Mothership! We packed up the car with Christmas goodies we baked, Palisade Wine, and headed for Odell’s! We loved sitting in the shadow of a mountain of Mountain Standard, a double black IPA bittered (and figuratively sweetened) with our Hippie Chick Chinooks.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, we are cleaning up the field, applying zinc and boron and a nice thick frosting of composted chicken manure. The girls are getting tucked in for the winter. Margie, our new intern, is working very hard in the field and sending all of the Hippie Chicks updates along the way! Usually starting out with, “God I love this job!” and whatever new little details are emerging from the day’s work. She’s a true Hippie Chick in that she is grateful for all the small joys in life.

Oh those wonderful Odellies! They even saved us a bottle of the Whopper…a special wet hopped beer, hence the name Whooper, that was a collaboration between Odell and Falling Rock Taphouse. Dang, that was good! Thank you Scott for remembering us!

October 15, 2011

"Like Santa carrying the loot! Fresh picked hops going straight to the brew pot!" said Julie. She and the rest of the Hippie Chicks Organic Hops crew were so so excited to welcome brewers from Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs to the farm. They came to get their hands dirty and learn about the picking process, but they didn’t stick around long to chat after they had met their quota. They rushed back to the brewery to add some Hippie Chicks love to their IPA Nouveau, a fresh hop brew! 

When the beer was released, October 12, an unveiling party was held at Old Chicago in Grand Junction, which the Hippie Chicks wouldn’t have missed for the world! Our local TV news station stopped by to get an interview with the Grand Valley’s favorite hops gals, and you can see the video here!

Our local newspaper, the Palisade Tribune was also there to cover. Here’s what they had to say about it:

Palisade Hops in Tommyknocker’s New Brew

By Hannah Odneal

Palisade has quite the reputation for its fruit and wine, and now the Hippie Chicks Organic Hops Farm is putting this little town on the map in the microbrew world. October 12 at Old Chicago restaurant in Grand Junction, Tommyknocker Brewing Company released a seasonal beer called IPA Noveaux that was brewed with hops from the Hippie Chicks Organic Hops Farm. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, this style of beer is usually “hoppy” and crisp. This particular IPA is unique because fresh, rather than palletized or dried hops, were used. “We sold Tommyknocker 200 pounds of FRESH hops! They came to the farm and helped us pick them on the spot,” Julie Diers, owner of Hippie Chicks Organic Hops said. “Then the hops were rushed back to their brewery in Idaho Springs and brewed immediately.”

The whole Hippie Chicks Hops crew was quite impressed with the flavor their crop enhanced. “I LOVED it!” Diers said. “It tasted like the fresh green aroma of our barn during harvest!” All of the Hippie Chicks described the flavor similarly. 

This particular beer will be only served at Old Chicago restaurants, and only for a limited time. “It’s seasonal, that’s part of the uniqueness, and it’s not going to be bottled,” Diers said. “It will only be available at Old Chicago for a few weeks since it’s so limited!” “

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August 12, 2011

Harvest was a great success. Last year we tackled infrastructure in the field, this year it was all about perfecting the harvesting and drying parts of the process. Since a whole year’s work can be lost in one hour in the drying table it was a moment of great pride and joy when Scott at Odell’s gave the Hippie Chicks an “A” rating on our dried hops! The dehumidification system was designed by local HVAC contractor, and good friend of the Hippie Chicks, Mack Newman. Mack enjoyed researching the hops drying process — it was a fun challenge for him. “In my trade, the jobs we take on are pretty repetitive and similar. So it was fun to do something a little different this time,” he said. After braving about a six inch stack of research, his resulting design managed to achieve ideal moisture content without using ANY heat, the hops were dried quickly with high airflow in the barn which is naturally warm during our sunny Colorado summers! As beer lovers know, heat kills the alpha acids in the hops… and we can’t have that! Larger farms often have to use heaters to hurry the process… but our small farm doesn’t have that problem.

We babied those bines all season, and boy did it pay off! We averaged about 5 lbs. (wet) per plant. With this being our second year in production, we are right on the mark for the data, as quoted in the Expected Yield Tables for Second Year Hops Field.

Our alpha acids were amazing! We surely see the power of clover, composted chicken manure, and fish emulsion! And let us not underestimate the power of Hippie Chick love and energy!

Thanks to the hundred thousand lacewings eggs that were hand planted in June for keeping the pests away. They consider the aphid and spider mite the equivalent of prime rib — and they are even more aggressive than ladybugs!

Finding the apple sorter — a vintage gem — was “like winning the lottery, finding that damn machine so well preserved!” Julie said. With the help of April and Dano it was converted into a hops picker! A big thanks to everyone who helped make this year another successful harvest — including all of our diligent helpers, and our friends and fellow hop growers in Palisade, The Pinnts at Palisade Hops farm. What an amazing stroke of luck that David and Karen are willing to let us use it! We are also so grateful for all of the support from Colorado Breweries: Odell Brewing Company, Tommyknocker Brewery, Crazy Mountain Brewery, Wynkoop (owned by the governor of Colorado, and Falling Rock Brewery in a collaborative effort with Odell. 

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August 5, 2011

Our good friends from the Odell Brewing Company came back for another visit. It wouldn’t be a trip to Palisade done right without a float down the Colorado River, which runs right through town! Locals call this stretch “The Cocktail Float” and what a fitting float for a reunion of beer aficionados from complimentary sides of the business.

Thanks to Rondo from Rapid Creek Cycles, who captained his raft full of the Fort Collins folks.

After the river adventuring, it was back to the Hippie Chicks Organic Hops Farm for a BBQ — Not only are we famous for growing great hops, we also have quite a few keen cooks in the bunch! Having visitors from the Odell Brewing Company has become a favorite event of the summer — and with this being the second trip, it’s becoming an annual tradition. Last year the crew decided at the last minute to camp out among the bines in sleeping bags. This year a larger crew of “Odellies” (as we endearingly call them) set up camp out there and they were much more prepared, with tents and all. 

The Hippie Chicks Hops Farm breakfast the next morning was enjoyed by all. Before our dear friends departed they presented us with Odell’s t-shirts and other other goodies. The biggest and best surprise was a HUGE banner proclaiming that Odell’s proudly supports us, and it’s proudly hanging our barn — where it will stay until it’s tattered.

Also, thanks to LZ Atkinson for shooting pictures of the festivities! She’s a great photographer and a great friend of the Hippie Chicks! Check out our NEW and IMPROVED Facebook Page for more photos! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hippie-Chicks-Organic-Hops/153579724746412?sk=wall

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July 31, 2011

Turns out GROWING these beautiful thumb sized Chinooks is only half of it. It’s almost time to bring the girls in from the field and the barn has been bustling with commotion over preparations for harvest. The Hippie Chick’s list of “honey do’s” for the dudes is pretty long. While Dano and his lovely assistant April are welding on the picker; Mack, Russ, and Sam are hammering on the drying machine, and Mike Laurita is buttressing the barn, the Hippie Chicks are sticking to what they do best: irrigating, spraying rotten fish, weeding, lending a hand to the dudes where we can, and making sure they always have something good to eat and a cold beer or two. There’s not a Hippie Chick among us who now can’t run some power tools, nail lath, run the chop saw, or pound in some nails and we sure are grateful for their help and expertise. Without the know-how of Mack’s in HVAC and Garry’s in electrical, we would be up the river without a paddle. Harvest is in two weeks and we are conducting trial runs nightly on our apple- sorter-turned-hops-picker and trials on the drying machine are soon to come. We are so excited for this weekend we will be paid a visit by our friends from Odell Brewing Company and begin shooting the photos of all of the Hippie Chicks with our lovely green girls in the field for our Hippie Chicks Hops calendar!!!  

June 22, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! We celebrated this occasion right with food, friends, and of course, beer on the farm. The hops have reached the top wire and some have grown a foot over it! Harvest is near! Thanks to Javier for the amazing green chili, beans, and cactus salsa. Thanks to Ali, from Summit Plant Labs for the delicious keg of IPA! We all enjoyed the grub, camaraderie, “hippie tv” entertainment of all of our doggies playing together, and the serenades from our local musician friends: Mack, of The Mack Newman Project; Bud; and Gary, of Straygrass, between the hops yard and the veggie garden, lit up by tiki torches. We also had some serious ping-pong action in the barn, with Nancy beating just about everyone at the party!

In addition to the merriment, there was a bit of business talked, about Mack building our new drying facility. Dr. Ron and Ali gave their approval to his plans, and we are excited to have harvest and drying equipment getting ready for action! We were also happy to have fellow hops farmers present for the Solstice celebration. David and Karen Pinnt who farm just around the corner were there and Tami, of Simply Organic on East Orchard Mesa brought a friend of hers from Norway to celebrate. Good times were had by all, and how couldn’t they be? We’re so lucky. Not only do we get to grow the vital ingredients in our favorite beers, but we get to enjoy the community and camaraderie that come along with it! Happy Summer! Cheers!