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.