In May, I was invited to join the Troegs brewing team at Sunny Brae Hops in rural Carlisle.
Last week, we got word it was time to harvest the crop we had planted. Troegs dispatched a bigger crew of volunteers, led by John Trogner — including many of their Tasting Room crew, who you interact with regularly when you visit — to hand-pick Comet, Chinook and Cascade hops for use in a new Scratch Series brew.
The Troegs crew arrived around 9 a.m., and we grabbed buckets and got to picking mature hops from the bines. It was amazing to see how much they had grown in such a short time. We used ladders to reach some of the higher climbing bines and an even larger contraption John climbed up to reach the tallest of them all.
Hop picking is easy, and Adam Dellinger of Sunny Brae even describes it as soothing (hops are closing related to cannabis). Any hop lover would be happy here, as the aroma from the hops wafts under your nose, and your hands take on a stickiness from the oils. We joked about making it into a perfume or cologne.
The group chatted amicably through rows of Comet and then Chinook hops. Soon, catering manager Alicia and Chef Christian DeLutis arrived with picnic tables, a whole pig (well, it was once a whole pig), smoked turkey legs — and beer.
Adam led a toast as we chowed down on the delicious grub, also including watermelon compressed in DreamWeaver wheat, and drank bottles of HopKnife and cans of Sunshine Pils.
The post-lunch picking crowd finished the Chinook crop at decidedly a bit louder volume, and all told, the crew picked a total of 91 lbs of hops.
Hops were transported back to Troegs that evening and incorporated into what I’m told will be a session pale ale, which we can look for in 3-4 weeks.