Today is Memorial Day! Many view this holiday as the beginning of summer, which gives me an opportunity (aside from taking a little time to remember our fallen troops) to give you a Beginning of Summer Update on the state of my venture, City Harvest Hop Co. I got incorporated in September of 2014 after a successful first summer, growing seven hop plants in the back yard. I decided to expand my hop yard and test the waters of the local market for locally grown hops. This spring I bought 37 more rhizomes (root cuttings), bringing the total plants being grown in my back yard to 44. My parents kept the baby hops in their garage for a month before we planted them in the ground.
On the weekends over the next month and a half, Keith and I did a lot of work in the back yard, like:
- Spread compost and mulch
- Prepared the trellis system
- Installed a drip irrigation system
- Installed edging around the plants
- Trained the hops and kept the weeds out of the yard.
Currently our efforts have gotten us 44 thriving hops, some of which are growing like monsters and some of which are showing progress but taking their time. The second year hops are dwarfing to the appearance of the new ones. The first year hops are growing well, but the second years are thick, healthy, and already as high as the wooden beams (14 feet high). The tallest one is about half way up the PVC pipe at the top of the trellis; I’d say its about 16 or 17 feet tall right now. I’m beginning to think these guys are going to be big producers this year! The only downside is that they make it seem as though the first year hops are struggling, but this isn’t the case! I think they are right on track for being in their first year. In another two years, I hope to be producing 90 lbs of dry hops from this plot in the back yard alone.
There are also things being done behind the scenes. I’ve been making progress with the packaging and labeling but have not ordered everything just yet. I’ve also been taking time to develop a working relationship with my contract grower, Andrew Saucke, who is growing five varieties on the outskirts of Shell Rock. It’s been great getting to know him and his family recently! I’ve been in close contact with Tom Blaser, the owner of Kitchen Wines & Brew Shop in Cedar Falls and my friends in CRAZE, the Cedar River Association of Zymurgy Enthusiasts. They are a key source of knowledge for me and have been more helpful than I can really describe.
One last note: Andrew gifted me another couple ounces of his mysterious strain of hops, Boulder Wild. I’m sending one of them in next week to be analyzed for Alpha, Beta and Cohumulone percentages. So far this strain has been described (by Kurt Smelser, CRAZE Member) as, “Lemon Grass, with slight mint and pine notes.” I’ll keep you all posted on the results! Thank you for reading the “Beginning of Summer Update” for 2015.