Terroir (French pronunciation: [tɛʁwaʁ] from terre, "land") is the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop's phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop's specific growth habitat.
This term is very often used in the wine industry to describe the importance of wine from different regions of the world. It is often defined this way:
Now, what if we use this word to describe the importance of place when growing hops and, ultimately, brewing beer?
The location of where hops are grown in very important in creating flavors of beer distinct to where they are brewed. What's the point of having a beer that has no personality or distinction unique to where it was made?
This awesome article by Stan Hieronymus delves into the importance of terroir in hops and the craft beer industry.
Don’t call it terroir. Call it beer from a place.
Yes, where hops are grown matters. Iowa beers need Iowa hops.
It's official. As of 12:15 pm today it is SPRING!
That being said, its only 34 degrees outside. So, what do we do to get ready for spring? Right now we are working to remove the old 3' bines that were left from last season. This isn't a hard job, it just takes some time to work our way through the fields.
Our other task is getting tools cleaned and ready to go. Here you can see hand pruners soaking in a bowl of vinegar. This helps to remove any debris and rust while they soak for about 12 hours. When that is done they will be sharpened and greased as the final steps.
It won't be long until the first shoots are emerging and there is lots of work to be done!
I just looked up the number of days until spring: 33
As these images will show, there isn't a lot going on in our fields right now. While we are busy in the office planning for the coming year, the plants are blanketed in a layer of snow.
The snow is actually a welcome sight in our fields. The snow acts as insulation on the crown of the plants and protects them from cold winds. At the crown of the plant are the buds which will form the coming year's growth and protecting these growing points is important.
So for now we plan which varieties will go in our additional three acres this spring, meet with brewers to talk about the value of Iowa grown hops and dream of hop bines climbing to the sky this summer.
Its been a busy fall!
The past six weeks have been full of activity as we've added an additional three acres of hops trellis to our field. What does this entail? Well the basic steps include:
Building a Hops Trellis:
The poles are set in place with the help of our wonderful friend, Don Briggs, and Mike. These two have mastered the technique for using the bucket of the tractor to lift the end of the pole just high enough for it to be gently set into the hole.
The next step involves using a "pogo stick" on the end of an air compressor to back fill the soil in around the pole. We attempt to align each pole on the north side of each hole to help with alignment, use a level to get things straight, and then fill the hole in roughly three different steps so that the soil can be compacted at several layers to keep things steady.
We are very lucky to have the incredible team of Tom Perez and Lisa Ott from Otter's Edge Farms help us with both the design and cable install. They are awesome and did a great job.
A huge thanks to the folks at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier for writing a story about the development and growth of Cedar Falls Hops Co! We can't thank you enough for taking the time to write about our farm.
Read the full article at: http://wcfcourier.com/business/local/cedar-falls-family-keeps-the-hops-down-on-the-farm/article_1269af03-b6df-572c-b165-80e71b706369.html
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All of those orange flags can only mean one thing-- we are expanding!
The first step in adding more acres is to mark the pole locations so that we can begin drilling holes for the trellis poles. Each hole is 4' deep to support the 18' of above-ground height.
The fabulous folks from Otter's Edge Farms are helping us with the cable system again this year. They describe it, "A traditional trellis system consists of wood poles 22' to 25' long, set in a grid or diamond pattern. The poles are connected east to west and north to south with cable that is then anchored into the ground. A "V" system has an additional wire on both sides of the main cable, usually on the north to south run. The "V" design can increase yields, but will also increase your initial costs."
Do you love beer and want to learn more about how hops grow?
Are you a home brewer who wants to try making a wet-hopped beer with fresh hops?
Featuring four acres of first year plants, this hops field has two acres of both Cascade and Columbia hops along with trials of Mt. Hood, Crystal, Newport and Glacier. Our limited harvest this year means there are still lots of hops to be picked.
What is Lupulin?
Technically, all of the cones that we harvest are from female plants. Occasionally a stressed plant will produce some male flowers, but all of the plants in our fields are females.
See those funny looking little spikes on the hops plant? Those are called "burrs" and they are the future cones on our hops! These little burrs, about 1/2" in size, will grow into the paper, pinecone-like cone that we will be harvesting in a few weeks.
Cedar Falls Hops Co. grows Iowa hops. Follow us on here to keep up with the newest progress in our fields.