Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fieldtrip!: Oregon Hops

Earlier this month, we visited five Oregon hops fields and met the growers. The magic might happen in the breweries but it starts in the fields, where leafy green hop vines grow 20 feet tall—cheery swamp monsters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in endless rows, leaves twinkling in the breeze. When we toured the fields, the plants were fragrant and robust; By the time we post this, harvest will have begun, which means the delicate, chartreuse hop flowers are being picked, sorted and compressed in 200-pound, burlap-wrapped bales, destined for breweries near and far, big (Anheuser-Busch) and small (craft breweries like Russian River Brewing Co. in Sonoma County, Calif., and Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales in Rehoboth Beach, Del.). More than 90 percent of the domestic hops supply is grown in Washington and Oregon (the vast majority in Washington’s sunny Yakima Valley). It’s always exhilarating to visit the source of our favorite drinks and food, from hops fields to vineyards and organic farms, and to witness the hard work, science and passion that go into their production. Somehow it makes the final product taste that much better. And taste we did. Folks from BridgePort Brewing Co. and Rogue Ales kept us sated with BridgePort’s classic IPA and Rogue’s burly, punch-packing Brewer Ale. Check out our September/October issue for more on hops and the hopheads who can’t get enough of ‘em. (Thanks to BridgePort for the photos.)


Anonymous said...

Wow, didn't know the northwest grows so many hops.What's the length of the growing season?

Imbibe Magazine said...

Yes, believe it or not, there's actually enough sun. The growing season starts in mid-March, with harvest in mid-August. Hop plants are dormant over the winter (they're perennials, so when conditions are right, they come back year after year).

Brendan said...

Just picked up your new issue and read the hops story. Great job; love the mag. i'm on a mission to find that dogfish triple: sounds nuts!