Standing Stone Brewing Company

local food & farms

Behind Your Brew: Winter and Spring at Alpha Beta Hops Farm

We love the greenery and color spring brings. As brewers, we’re particularly excited to see hops pop out of the ground after hibernating for the winter. We asked our friends Steve and Rebecca Pierce, of Ashland’s own Alpha Beta Hops, about what’s happened since our virtual visit with them last fall.

They’ve been growing organic Cascade hops for several years (now joined by sons, Spencer and Morgan), with plans to expand acreage and varietals to meet growing demand for this essential ingredient in beer. (Photos by Rebecca Pierce)

 What’s the winter like at the hop yard?

With the hops cut and put to bed with a covering of straw, the hop yard is pretty quiet in the winter. It’s a great time for marketing our fresh hops to local breweries and home brewers. Winter is also the time we “retired” folks travel. Once we get the pasture grass clumps and weeds eradicated, we plan to plant a clover cover crop over the winter. For now, sheep, chicken and duck grazing supply nitrogen.

What does spring bring your way?

We start reviving the hop yard in February when we stretch wire trellis and repair anchors and irrigation hoses. In March, we put up 5,000-6,000 organic paper strings and anchor them near the budding hop plants. Hop bines wind around these as they reach for the sun.  We’ve been very lucky to be helped by WWOOFer (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) volunteers, who work hard in exchange for hands-on experience on an organic farm. By May, the bines grab the strings and turn the fields into leafy green forests of hop bines.

What’s your favorite aspect of spring?

After a cold, windy winter it’s exciting to walk out into the field, which had snow on it a week before, and see our hops starting to push up through the straw (photo on right). We seem to be in a microclimate that’s protected by nearby foothills. So far, the hops seem to be able to survive anything Mother Nature sends our way. Spring in the Rogue Valley is a wonderful time of year, with everything turning lush and green. Although our winters are usually mild, it’s nice to have the rains stop, the mud dry up and hearty sprouts popping up everywhere.

What else do you grow at your farm?

Like so many others, we’re striving to become more self sufficient and make a smaller footprint on this earth. We have a quarter acre organic vegetable garden, egg-producing chickens, turkeys, sheep and two miniature donkeys.

Our son, Morgan, and his fiancé, Jessica, design and coordinate our vegetable and flower garden. Jessica designs the most beautiful beds, incorporating flowers with vegetables, rotating the crops annually, and using marigolds and other natural methods to control any unwanted pests. After each year’s crop, they collect seeds to make their own starts in the greenhouse. This year we harvested our first batch of asparagus, enjoyed fresh organic produce all winter and just finished off the bit of over-wintered broccoli. Jessica and Morgan like to introduce us to many heirloom vegetables so we never know what wonderful treats are in store.

What a hoppening place – we can’t wait for the harvest! (Volunteers welcome and it’s FUN – contact the Pierces.) Until then, we’ll enjoy one our the craft beers we make with their wonderful hops. As Steve and Rebecca would say, “Prosit!”

Photo and Video Recap: Rogue Valley Farm Tour with Joel Salatin

We want to share some photos and a video from our memorable afternoon last month with author, lecturer and holistic farmer, Joel Salatin. Joel came to the Rogue Valley in March for a full weekend of tours and presentations on sustainable farming and eating, and the 2012 Rogue Valley Farm Faire.

The Jackson County Local Action Coalition (JCLAC) organized the multi-day affair, and we were thrilled to be a part of Saturday’s Rogue Valley Farm Tour 2012, with our friends at Valley View Beef.

After a fresh, local lunch in Valley View’s barn, we spent the afternoon with Joel and 60 other guests strolling the acres of our farmland on Eagle Mill Rd. in Ashland, OR. Our farm manager, Brandon Schilling, led the tour of our multi-species intensive grazing operation, where our cows, goats and chickens rotate across different sections of pasture. Joel joined in with guidance and input for sustainable agriculture strategies. We also visited our compost site on the farm, where we’re turning pre- and post-consumer food waste from our restaurant kitchen into nutrient rich soil.

The Mail Tribune/Daily Tidings joined us and took video of the Standing Stone portion of the tour, which you can view here for a recap and to learn more about our farm project.

We want to thank everyone who joined us for the full day of learning and touring, even with cold rain and wind leading us to thoughts of warm indoors.

If you’re interested in learning more about local food and farms and earth-friendly living, be sure to stop by Rogue Valley Earth Day at the ScienceWorks museum this Saturday, April 21st in Ashland, OR. There will be informational and educational talks, exhibits and entertainment for the whole family, 11-4pm. Stay tuned for more info coming soon!

Sustainable Agriculture Champion Joel Salatin Visits the Rogue Valley (and Our Farm!) March 15-16

As farmers and advocates for sustainable agriculture, we’re excited to help welcome Joel Salatin to the Rogue Valley on March 15-16, and encourage you to take part.

Joel Salatin operates Polyface Farm in Virginia, where he raises livestock using a free-range, rotational grazing system – a model we use on our own farm. He’s an outspoken champion for agriculture that truly sustains the environment, the economy and society. A well-respected, informed and engaging presenter, Salatin is featured in the film Food Inc. and the book Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan), and has authored several books.

The Jackson County Local Action Committee (JCLAC) is hosting Salatin for a smorgasbord of events focused on how we can create food systems that are better for all, including a tour of our farm.

“So You Want to do an Abattoir!” Dinner with Joel Salatin ** Sold out **

  • March 15, 5 pm, Deja’ Vu Bistro & Wine Bar at the McCully House Gardens, 240 E. California St, Jacksonville
  • Food has a story to tell and so does Joel Salatin. Enjoy a lively evening featuring delicious cuisine, locally produced steaks, and Joel’s wisdom and inspiration. Proceeds support the establishment of a local local slaughterhouse.

Rogue Valley Farm Tour (Valley View Beef and Standing Stone Farm) ** Sold Out **

  • Friday, March 16, 8 am-4 pm, 816 East Valley View Road (starting location)
  • Salatin will captivate, educate and challenge with his holistic vision of animal husbandry, including mob-grazing techniques, multi-speciation and biodiversity. The day includes morning coffee & pastries, Salatin’s “Ballet in the Pasture” power point, educational tours of Valley View Beef and Standing Stone Farm, and lunch from Standing Stone. Hosted by Dave Westerberg/Valley View Beef and Standing Stone Brewing Company.

Food & Farm Faire

  • March 16, 4:30-6:30pm, Medford Armory, 1701 South Pacific Highway
  • Sample the local bounty of Rogue Valley farms, ranches, restaurants, caterers and food artisans, and meet the producers behind your next meal. Tickets available online.

 Joel Salatin Presentation: “Folks, This Ain’t Normal”

  • March 16, 7-9 pm, Medford Armory, 1701 South Pacific Highway
  • In a challenging and entertaining fashion, Salatin will discuss how far removed we are from the simple, sustainable joy that comes from living close to the land and the people we love. He’ll share his thoughts on what normal is, along with practical ideas for making small changes in our lives that have big impacts. Tickets available online.

For more details, see the event website. We hope you’ll come out to learn about the possibilities for truly sustainable agriculture in the Rogue Valley, and the steps we can all take to support and expand a better local food supply. For an inspiring sneak preview, check out this video of Joel Salatin (and a clip of our farm, too). See you there!

PS: Don’t forget – the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market opens this Tuesday in Ashland and this Thursday Medford with lots of early season goodies. Come and get delicious, healthful food that supports a sustainable local food system and family farmers.

Standing Stone Farm Project Launches!

Melza, Alex Brandon and Rachel at our farm (photo: M. Schweisguth)

There’s an extra special buzz around here lately since we moved onto our new farmland on October 1st, launching the Standing Stone Farm Project. To prepare this new home for our chickens and cows, our farm team is spending lots of time there, especially Co-owner Alex, Server/Sustainability Coordinator Brandon Schilling, Server/Chicken Caretaker Melza Quinn and our fence and irrigation team. We’re excited about this latest step in our journey to produce our own food and shrink our environmental footprint.

We’ve long made it a priority to purchase sustainable and locally produced ingredients to maximize quality, reduce environmental impacts and support our local economy. Our menu features produce from diverse family farms, beer made with Alpha Beta hops, Rogue Creamery Cheese, regional wines and Noble Coffee, among other regional delights. We’ve also undertaken significant measures to reduce waste through landfill diversion while slashing energy use and installing solar panels.

In 2009, we began using beef from Valley View Beef in Ashland, OR and started musing about raising our own food. Since Valley View raises grass-fed beef on expansive, chemical-free pasture using rotational grazing, we asked owner Dave Westerberg if we could start a chicken flock there. He heartily agreed, and we got hens that produce all the eggs we need. We started our own composting operation there, too.

Seeking to produce more of our ingredients, we developed a plan for our own farm and began looking for land. Our plan included adding chickens for poultry, purchasing our own cattle and composting kitchen waste. As luck would have it, the City of Ashland put out a Request for Proposals for City-owned pasture a mile from our restaurant, so we applied.

After the City approved our proposal (hooray!), we started preparing by raising breeder chickens for poultry and purchasing cattle from a neighboring farm. Melza, who plays a central role in caretaking our egg layers, took the lead in researching and selecting heritage chicken breeds  for full-flavored poultry. We purchased chicks this summer, which are now growing hens that will reproduce to create our poultry flock. They’re Delaware, New Hampshire, Wyandotte, and Australorp breeds, coloring the pasture white, red, orange and black feathers. We also bought three Anatolian Shepherd sheepdogs, named IPA, Stone and Ruby, whom we’re training to herd our cows.

On October 1st, we began preparing the site for our chickens and cattle, starting with fence building. We’re looking forward to seeing our livestock make themselves at home in their spacious digs. Like Valley View, we’re using a rotational grazing system wherein cows and chickens cycle through different sections of pasture to prevent over-compaction and over-grazing, and help the land rejuvenate.

We’re working on additional farm activities to localize more of our food (bees…honey..mmmmm), further our environmental goals and welcome our community to learn and enjoy. For starters, we’re holding our Third Annual Pumpkins and Pints there on October 23, and invite all to attend. In additional to the usual pumpkin carving, food and drinks, Brandon and Melza will share our vision and plans for the farm, and you’ll be able to get up close and personal with our chickens and cattle, who will be moved onto our farm by then. We hope to see you there!

By in Food, Restaurant & Menu 0

Fresh Picked Treats Rolling Off Our Bakers’ Tables

We’re nearing the end of THRIVE’s Eat Local Week, but that doesn’t mean we’re winding down our locally-infused specials. During summer’s peak harvest season, our specials board is filled with appetizers, sandwiches, salads, entrées and desserts made with ingredients from our friends at the Growers and Crafters Market, and our rooftop garden. We’re especially having fun preparing sweet treats with berries and stone fruits that are ripening to perfection during these late summer days.

This week, the Standing Stone Brewing Co staff has been busy harvesting berries at Standing Stone’s new farm site. If you’ve been to the restaurant and noticed the stained purple fingers of the cooks, servers and bartenders, that’s because they’ve been picking blackberries! Pounds and pounds of fresh blackberries have been coming in to the kitchen, and we can’t wait to try some of the fresh new recipes our cooks and bakers come up with.

We took a few minutes to ask Standing Stone baker, Nate Kelsey, what we can expect to see for dessert specials in the coming days and weeks, and some easy ideas for using seasonal fruits in desserts at home.

What are you plans for all these blackberries?

We just made a Blackberry Galette, which is a kind of rustic tart.  You can definitely expect to see a blackberry version of our best selling cobbler, too. We’re also interested in trying a mousse.  We’ve got so many blackberries, we can really have fun trying a lot of new recipes.

What other desserts are you excited about this time of year?

We’ve been getting a lot of fruit from the Growers and Crafters Market every week. We’ve made a Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp, served with vanilla ice cream.  The peaches are really wonderful right now, and we’ve used those in cobblers as well.  Now that we’re making breakfast on Saturdays, we’ve been using fresh fruit in scones, too. Peach Scones, Blueberry Scones and Apricot Scones are going over really well.

What are some easy ideas for using local fruits in desserts at home?

We really like doing seasonal variations of bread pudding. We use our own house-made bread at Standing Stone, but you can use whatever bread you like at home. You basically cut it into inch-sized pieces, pour custard over top, and throw in whichever seasonal fruit you have. Bake in the oven and you’ve got a really nice bread pudding for dessert.  You can also blend berries into a coulis to pour over top.  Just combine berries, sugar and some lemon juice in a food processor, blend well and strain.

Thank you, Nate, for the sneak peek onto the baker’s table.  Be sure to ask your server about the special desserts next time you’re in for a visit, and enjoy our valley’s fresh bounty by celebrating eating local!

Hop, Hop Hooray! Harvest at Alpha Beta

Late summer is peak harvest season—one of our favorite times of the year! As a brewery, we’re especially excited that the hops harvest is underway at Alpha Beta Hops right here in Ashland, OR. Earlier this year, we paid a virtual visit to Alpha Beta to give you a taste of what hops farming entails. We thought we’d go back to give you a peek into the process of how hops get from plant to pint, too.

Alpha Beta Hops is a family operation, run by Steve and Rebecca Pierce, and their sons, Spencer and Morgan. They currently grow about 1.5 acres of organic Cascade hops, prized by craft brewers like us. The Pierces undertake each step with great care and attention to quality, and incorporate sustainable practices throughout, brewing great things for beer lovers, people and planet.

The harvest involves about a week of long days. When hops are at their peak, good producers know they need to pick, process and pack their crop quickly to maintain optimal flavor and aroma. Following farm tradition, four generations of the family pitched in, with volunteers including friends and folks from World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).

The process begins by cutting hop bines, which grow on tall trellises. Alpha Beta uses heavyweight paper string for trellises, a renewable material they compost to feed next year’s crop. Always innovating, the Pierces built an harvesting attachment for their tractor, consisting of a platform they stand on to cut and a chute they load with hops.

The Pierces take each load of bines to a worktable where everyone carefully plucks off hops and places them in buckets. The pile shrinks quickly as workers enjoy chatting and enjoying the Rogue Valley’s beautiful views and clean air. The farm also has free-range chickens that like to check out the action, though they haven’t yet been trained to help.

The Pierce family is on the right (Photo: M. Schweisguth)

Full buckets are dumped into drying bins heated with a passive solar system. The building with the drying bins has a greenhouse on one side of its wall and the drying bin area on the other. Hot air from the greenhouse blows toward the drying bins. Workers gently rake the hops to ensure even drying.

After the hops are dry, they’re packed into bags for customers, ranging from individual homebrewers to brewing supply stores and brewpubs like Standing Stone Brewing Co. Hops are also great in herbal teas and tinctures, since they contain compounds that aid relaxation.

Volunteers from WWOOF (Photo: Steve Pierce)

Despite the long days, Rebecca finds the time and energy to whip up a delicious lunch each day. When the day’s work is done, of course folks enjoy a well-deserved IPA to celebrate their progress.

Thanks to the Pierces for doing what you do with such care for the hops, the planet and everyone involved. Making the best craft beer requires the best ingredients, and we’re grateful for farms like Alpha Beta that deliver that, always with a smile. Cheers!

Our Rooftop Garden: Sustainably Delicious Penthouse Produce

If you follow our blog or the news, you probably know that we’re getting ready to launch our own farming operation right here in Ashland, OR. We’re leasing land from the City and will be able to move in on October 1st. We’re counting the days!

We’re not waiting to start growing our own food, though. We’ve planted a rooftop garden to jump-start our in-house food sourcing, make the most of all of our brewpub’s space and tap into solar power in yet another way.

Though we’re already raising our own egg-producing free-range chickens, buying beef raised in Ashland and purchasing as many local and regional foods as we can get our hands on, we want to do more to get our ingredients closer to home. This maximizes flavor and minimizes environmental footprint – a double win.

Brandon Schilling, server and sustainability coordinator, has taken the lead to grow this effort, helping reduce food miles to mere feet.

Admittedly, it provides just a small part of what we use for our menu, but we believe in doing what we can. Any tiny step in the right direction takes us closer to a more sustainable world.

We started simple, with herbs like basil and mint. If you’ve noticed a new twist on favorites like our special mojitoes and select pizzas, that’s the taste of ultra-fresh, organic ingredients. We repurposed produce containers so they’ll keep delivering sustainable goodness.

As the weather’s become warmer and we’ve fine-tuned our skills, we’ve planted tomatoes, tomatilloes, cucumbers and strawberries. They’re happily thriving in repurposed 5-gallon buckets from ingredients and reused plant pots. We’re starting kale, beets, carrots and other greens for the fall and winter.

Our garden is fed with compost made from our restaurant kitchen scraps and spent grain from our brewery. As we work to localize food production, we’re also seeking to shrink the environmental impact of related inputs.

The next time you visit our restaurant, be sure to ask your server what foods and beverages feature our penthouse produce.

Till then, we hope you enjoy some recent photos and get inspired to start growing a bit of your own fresh food, no matter how much space you have.

To save money and maximize your positive environmental impact, reuse old containers for planters and look for things you can repurpose into plant supports. They’ll last for many seasons to come, keeping good materials our of landfills and saving the resources used to process the many reusable items that get recycled long before their useful life has ended.

Compost yard and kitchen scraps to amend your soil, too. Natural processes like this make expensive, prepared fertilizers, which often contain petroleum byproducts, unnecessary. Plant matter makes up much of what’s in our landfills, too. This wastes valuable materials we need to rebuild our world’s depleted soils and generates a lot of methane one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.

Now that’s really gardening with a green thumb, and the results are delicious for people and planet alike. Dig in!

Rogue Valley, Get Ready for Eat Local Week 2011

As September approaches, we’re reminded that it’s almost time for the Rogue Valley’s annual Eat Local Week. Of course, as local food fanatics, we love the festivities this week brings!

Organized by THRIVE (The Rogue Initiative for a Vital Economy), this annual celebration takes place September 9-18, 2011 and includes a menu of educational and culinary events, the Eat Local Challenge and the Rogue Flavor Dinner.

THRIVE is a terrific nonprofit that works to create a more sustainable local economy by promoting local businesses and agriculture, and helping local enterprises develop business skills. We’ve been a proud member and supporter for years.

For Eat Local Week, they’ve defined “local foods” as items whose ingredients are grown or raised within 200 miles of the Rogue Valley

Events take place from September 2nd to 18th, with the bulk occurring during Eat Local Week. Highlights include:

  • Farm tours and open farm days, including the Rogue Flavor Farm Tour on September 11th
  • Food & wine pairings
  • Food tastings galore
  • Tomato taste-off at Growers Markets
  • Cooking and food preservation classes
  • Local food menu specials at numerous restaurants, including Standing Stone
  • Talent Harvest Festival on September 11th
  • Rogue Flavor Dinner and Auction on September 17th

Our omelettes and quiche are Eat Local Week-friendly, made with eggs from our own free-range chickens!

The Eat Local Challenge is designed to encourage us to maximize the amount of locally-produced foods and beverages we consume, and all participants are eligible for a prize drawing as an incentive. You can participate at different levels:

  • Locavore Supreme- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles…no coffee, chocolate, non-local spices, etc.
  • Locavore- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles, and you can have your coffee, chocolate, non-local spices, etc.
  • Taster- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles for one meal per day
  • Sampler- Eat only foods that are grown, raised or produced within 200 miles during two meals throughout the week

It’s not difficult to make the commitment—even for the highest levels—since our regional producers offer a wider variety of items than most of us realize. To make it easy, THRIVE has created a guide for finding everything you need right here in the Rogue Valley. Check it out!

The Rogue Flavor Dinner and Auction on 9/17 at 6 pm tops off the week. It benefits THIVE and takes place at RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, which affords beautiful views of vineyards, farms and orchards. The Spanish-themed menu features five courses of locally grown food prepared by top local chefs, each using a local wine as an ingredient. This event typically sell out early, so call 541-488-7272 or visit THRIVE’s website to reserve your spot.

Speeding From the Mt Ashland Hillclimb to the Siskiyou Challenge

Photo: Andy Atkinson

Southern Oregon’s great summer and early fall weather make these seasons perfect for racing – whether it’s biking, running or water sports. Two of our favorites are the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Run and the Siskiyou Challenge.

The Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Run, which we’ve sponsored for years, took place in early August. This 13.3-mile race climbs more than a vertical mile, starting in Lithia Park at the center of Ashland, OR and ending at the peak of Mt. Ashland. Organizers added even more available spots to this ever-popular event, but it filled up in near record time nonetheless.

Photo: Andy Atkinson

Congratulations to everyone who participated, and a special hats off to male and female winners Erik Skaggs (of Ashland, OR, in the photo above) and returning champion Stephanie Howe (of Bend, OR). We offered gift certificates and post-race beer as usual, and hope everyone enjoyed that little reward for your efforts. See you next year!

We’re already looking toward the Siskiyou Challenge on September 24 with excitement. This six-leg multi-sport relay benefits Rogue Valley Farm to School, one of our favorite causes.

The race was a blast last year and promises to be even better its second time around. They’ve added another leg to last year’s five-leg relay and moved the start/finish area to Lithia Park increase the fun and community participation.

This year’s race course starts with a road bike ride to Emigrant Lake, followed by a kayak/surfboard paddle at Emigrant Lake, a road bike ride back to Lithia Park through farms and orchards, a 10k run climbing above Lithia Park, a mountain bike segment and a 5k run around Lithia Park.

Team Standing Stone, 2010 Siskiyou Challenge

Solo racers and teams of 2-6 are invited to step up for the challenge. Standing Stone is assembling a team again this year, and we’re looking to improve our placing while having even more fun!

Those looking for an easier taste of the action can participate in a Fun Run/Walk in Lithia Park, with registration starting at 9 AM and the run/walk starting at 9:30 AM.

The festivities extend well beyond the starting and finish line, and the community is welcome. There will be a pre-race BBQ at Emigrant Lake on Friday, September 23. After the race, participants and supporters can enjoy live music and a post race meal from Standing Stone, Artik Creamery and others featuring local food and beverages.

The Siskiyou Challenge offers lots of ways for local food advocates to support a great cause, from racing to volunteering and, of course, eating. Cruise over to the event website to register for the relay, sign up for the BBQ, learn about the fun run/walk, volunteer or make a donation. Stop by their Facebook page and check out a photo slide show by our very own photographer, George Rubaloff, to get even more connected  and inspired.  See you there!

Alpha Beta Hops Farm: Imbibe the Local, Organic Goodness

Hops are one of the beer’s essential ingredients and provide its central flavor. Naturally, to ensure that we brew an exceptional craft beer, we start with the very best hops. Luckily, our favorite supplier, Alpha Beta Hops Farm,is right here in Ashland, OR. We use their hops in our Pale Ale and specialty microbrews.

Not only is their crop amazing, but they’re local, certified organic, and use wind power. That makes a delicious pint with positive power! We’re taking you on a virtual tour of this beautiful, fascinating place with Steve Pierce, co-owner and grower extraordinaire, who runs the family-owned farm with his his son and partner Spencer, his wife Rebecca and his son Morgan.

What hop varietals do you grow?

We presently grow only 100% organic Cascade hops, which we sell as whole flower hops. As we establish our local market, we hope to expand by adding 2-3 varieties based on brewer needs.

What breweries and beers feature your hops? Are they also available to homebrewers?

Hops from the 2010 harvest have been sold online, at homebrewer supply stores such as Grains, Beans and Things and Grange Co-op, and to Standing Stone Brewing Co and Wild River Brewing for local brews. Fresh hops from our 2009 harvest were used by Caldera and Standing Stone in wet hop brews. Wild River featured our organic hops in their Double Cross Ale, also using malt from Klamath barley. This year, as we increase our yield, we hope to add many additional customers in southern Oregon and northern California.

What led you to start growing hops?

In the 1980’s we lived in Munich for 4 years and travelled throughout Europe. It’s impossible to live in Munich, survive four Oktoberfests, four Starkbierfests, and innumerable Bavarian fests and not grow to love good beer. Just breathing in the malt-laden air and sitting in a bustling biergarten are enough to make anyone a lover of beer culture. I moved to Oregon 20 years ago, became a homebrewer and have been drinking my own homebrew for over 15 years. After raising cattle and growing hay for 17 years, we decided to try our hand at an organic crop. With my love of beer culture, hops was the first choice.

Hops were grown for many years in this area until the mid 1900’s, and the last harvest at the Grants Pass Lathrop yards was in 1989, so we knew hops would grow well here. After seeing our trial planting take off like crazy, we tracked down the materials to construct over a mile of 17-foot high trellis wire. As the only hop yard in an area of numerous craft brewers, we feel the future looks bright.

What’s spring like at your farm?

Spring is our busiest time. After whacking away all the leftover hop bines (Bines? Says Steve – “bines” have hairs, versus “vines,” which have tendrils) and winter groundcover, we string about 6,000 paper strings from the trellis wires. Then, it’s a week or so of wrapping the hop bines up the strings to start them on their way to the top. Then we get the irrigation system going to take over from spring rains. Hops are thirsty. As they start to grow we begin monitoring for aphids, spidermites, and downy mildew.

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Thanks, Steve, for the hard work, fantastic hops, and sharing a bit of your story. We’ll definitely pay another virtual visit in the summer and fall, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy them in our Pale Ale and get some Alpha Beta Hops for your own home brew.

Steve enjoys the fruits of his labor, a homebrewed IPA (Photo: Alpba Beta Hops)