PHOTO OF THE WEEK, Hops and Beer

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Shaking isn't something that you could do at home very easily. When the hop trucks arrive at the picker, the hop vines are attached to chains with hooks that pull the hop vines up out of the trucks. The vines are shaken violently enough that the hop cones fall off. Then the hops go by conveyor to the dryer where the hops are dried to the desired moisture content. I asked my boss how he knew when the hops were dry enough. He had done it for so many years, he could tell if they were dry enough just by sticking his hand in the drying hops. The hops are then baled in burlap using a big press.
When my sister-in-law was a teenager she used to work in the hop yards picking hops by hand. I can't imagine picking 100s of acres of hops by hand, but that's how they used to do it. Must have taken humongous crews to get them all picked or maybe there wasn't as many acres in hops then.
Now the hops are grown on high trellises and a worker in a crow's nest cuts the vines and strings at the top. Another worker cuts the vines and string at ground level and the hops drop into trucks with high sides and off they go down the road to the picker with some of the vines dragging along behind! Although some growers in Europe have tested growing hops on low trellises. Since I'm not around the hop business anymore, I don't know whether that became a feasible option or not.
There - that's probably more than you ever wanted to know about harvesting hops!
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Donna in Idaho
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On Thursday 21 September 2006 05:39, Donna in Idaho wrote:

The whole of the East End used to go on holiday to Kent, hopping. Definitely 'humungous crews'
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Andy Davison
andy [at] oiyou [dot] ukfsn [dot] org
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Not exactly. You are correct about pulling the vines off the trucks. They are attached to moving chains that pulled them up and off the trucks to again hang full length as they did on the trellises and move them for about 50 ft toward the bud removal machine. The buds do not fall off by shaking. In fact, that 50 foot distance is so workers can move among the now hopelessly entangled vines and untangle them before they reach the hop bud stripping machines. It's the worst job on a hops farm and the one new workers usually get. Any exposed skin is raw within an hour and bloody by the end of the day.

Absolutely correct, but in reverse order. The bottoms are cut first, then the top. In the three summers I worked at the hopyards, I went from the worst job, untangler, to the top job, literally, the crows nest. Laziest job other than truck driver. :)

I remember when my highschool buddies and myself first approached the processing sheds looking for a job. The smell was so strong and pungent, I almost vomited on the spot. It was as bad as a full blast of skunk. Now, all these years later, I can't get enough of it. There is no beer that's too hoppy. :)
nb
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While vacationing with the family in Colorado, we stopped at Celestial Seasonings (tea factory) for a tour. A feature of the tour was stepping into the Mint Room for a whiff. Trust me, a whiff wasn't necessary, as my eyes started watering before I even crossed the threshold. I can imagine a hoip processing shed being as pungent.
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Joel Plutchak

"Things just fall apart." - Now They'll Sleep (Belly)
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There was some mention of that in this newsgroup a few years ago. Growers were trying to cultivate dwarf hop varieties. I haven't heard anything more about it either. But it would certainly be nice for the hobbyist, even it if were not commercially viable.
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Joel Plutchak

"Things just fall apart." - Now They'll Sleep (Belly)
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Donna in Idaho wrote:

That seems strange because we go to a great deal of trouble to handle them gently so as not to lose lupulins. Perhaps they do not fall off as easily when fresh? They sure do when dry.
> I

I do the same but it is easy enough to weigh them (or a sample if you have a lot) before and after. The dry weight should be about 25% of the fresh weight. I used to do this but don't bother anymore as it does not seem that over drying causes any problem and I am usually in no hurry.
js
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: http://schmidling.com/pow.htm
Astronomy, Beer, Cheese, Fiber,Gems, Sausage,Silver http://schmidling.com
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Having handled them fresh, I can confirm this. The untangling of the vines coming off the trucks is a physically violent process. The vines must be forcefully pulled apart, usually by more than one person. Since the vines were usually no more than 10-15 mins off the trellis, they've had no chance to dry and the buds (flowers) do not readily come off. The vine is more likely to lose smalls leaves and leaf stems than buds during this process.
nb
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snipped-for-privacy@schmidling.com wrote:

Very nice photo. I first saw hops growing when we visited the historic Strawberry Banke village in New Hampshire. They were being used as a decorative vine on a fence and arbor and were quite attractive.
My son-in-law is growing a few selected varieties for home beer brewing that he ordered from someplace in Oregon. In their second year, the vines are quite pretty and there is enough "fruit" to harvest.
gloria p
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snipped-for-privacy@schmidling.com wrote:

By the way, there is a great hi-res hop photo available at wikipedia if you do a search for hops ;) but here's the link to the photo:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hopfendolde-mit-hopfengarten.jpg
and the article(?) it came from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hops
Does anybody have any other links to some good hi-res photos regarding hops (or, perhaps, other beer related items)? I did a quick GIS for hops, but didn't find too many really impressive shots.
Scotty B
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