We recently received analysis results of the Lovehops Farm 2014 harvest. Bummer news, but let us offer the world nothing if not honesty in the name of learning. Here’s the scoop.
The week we dried our hops was one of those crazy rainy spells from this Nebraska August. We thought with our small, second=year hopsyard we could get by air-drying without an oast this year, which was a mistake. They were slow to dry in the wet weather and finally we packaged them due to concern that the cones were beginning to brown. The acid and oil levels suffered as a result (see table). Note that Brewlaboratory kindly estimated where the levels would be if they had dried properly, which is helpful in terms of anticipating the unknown future. Things seem on track.
Given the moisture contents, we don’t feel comfortable offering this year’s crop for sale. Other than some fun tshirts, product quality is all we live by. Though the hops are all vacuum sealed and in the freezer, we can’t predict what ongoing effect the moisture contents are having or will have on quality. (For example, while the Cascades tested within the typical AA and BA ranges, we don't know how long they will remain in that state.)
This is a bummer, but harder on the ego than the pocketbook. Next year will be a different story. Much better to learn this lesson now, then when we'll have dozens more year 2 bines to process.
Ergo, plans for the winter include:
build an oast (fool us once…);
build or acquire a picker. The intent is to try and build one first, then give up and order one at the last responsible moment.
Add a row or two of Summit bines, if we can get our grimey hands on the rhizomes;
Learn to package with nitrogen-flush technology.
Lots of good endeavors to keep us occupied. Winter days are short, but the nights are long! (Says hopsyard manager Antonio Banderas.)