Category: Production

Bees in the Hop Yard

Wild hops are a wind pollinated plant and, of the female hops planted commercially, the majority are grown from rhizomes or propagated from cuttings. Hops don’t have much to offer bees in terms of pollen or a nectar reward, so one might expect that bees would want nothing to do with Humulus lupulus. However, Doug Walsh, a professor of entomology at Washington State University in Prosser, Wash., has uncovered a somewhat surprising connection. Walsh worked with a graduate student to complete a two-year survey of bee populations in and around perennial crops in eastern Washington state, including in hop...

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A Growing Industry: Hops Outside the Pacific Northwest

While the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho account for approximately 97 percent of America’s total hop production, a small but growing number of hop yards have cropped up in regions outside of the Pacific Northwest. Chris Swersey, supply chain specialist with the Brewers Association, estimates there are at least 30 other states with some level of commercial hop acreage. Taken together, these will account for between 2 and 3 percent of the 2018 domestic crop. As small as the percentages are, it’s still a significant shift. “Five years ago, probably only 1/100th—or 1/1000th—of 1 percent of total hop...

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A Lupulin Revolution: As craft beer continues to disrupt the brewing industry, ground-level changes in hop yards bring new opportunity and challenges for growers, brokers, and brewers.

  Fred Geschwill is a third-generation hop grower in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. His farm isn’t huge by commercial standards—he and his brother grow about 260 acres of hops, along with broccoli, beans, corn, and other crops on their 1,200-acre spread—but his knowledge of and experience with the industry runs deep. Geschwill’s grandfather and namesake came over from Germany in 1924 and started the family farm in the early 1940s. Willamette Valley, with its rich soil, temperate climate, and abundant rainfall, resembled his homeland and provided ideal conditions for growing Humulus lupulus (aka the hop plant, whose flowers, known as...

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California Gin: A few fascinating gins that capture the magic of the Golden State

As the craft-everything movement continues to take root across the country, producers are drawing inspiration from their surroundings to create beverages that stand apart. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to focus on ingredients that reflect what’s unique about where you are. Gin, with its loose formulaic requirements, offers distillers a perfect opportunity to add local flair. In California, where “garden to glass” and “seed to sip” are hardwired mantras, this means traveling the state’s unique terrain, seeking out native spices and indigenous flora, and drawing inspiration from regional flavors. It also includes tapping into what...

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The Future of Fermentation: The role of synthetic yeast in winemaking

The wine industry is constantly evolving to address the challenges of grape growing and winemaking, as well as respond to a continually changing market. An industry that marries art and science, wine plays a balancing act between tradition and scientific advancement. One of the newest discoveries with the potential to spark innovation within the industry is DNA and synthetic biology. In 2007, the genome for a Pinot Noir cultivar was “cracked” for the first time, with the genome for the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae discovered one year later. Now that the Saccharomyces genome has been catalogued, can it be tweaked...

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March/April 2018

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