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Glee Club Hops

Glee Club Hops

We’re almost done unpacking stuff we stuck away during our grand journey.

Yesterday I hauled out small beer items that decorate the tops of book shelves in the guest bedroom and office, including boxes of hops from the Prohibition era and before. In the 18 months the Glee Club box spent in hiding it became more topical, so here’s a photo.

What did people do with these hops, most sold in boxes that held two to eight ounces? Here are the instructions from a box of Rose Hops packed by E. Clemens Horst Co. in San Francisco, “Largest Hop Growers in the World.”

TO START YEAST-Boil one-half pound Rose Grand Hops in one gallon water, half an hour; strain, and stir in one-half pint fine malt flour, strain again through a coarse cloth, and boil for ten minutes; when lukewarm, stir in one-half pound brown sugar, place in a jug, and keep in a warm place until it works over, then cork tight and keep in a cool place for use.

HOP YEAST-Boil one ounce of Rose Brand Hops in three pints of water, twenty minutes. Strain into a jar, and stir in one teacupful flour, one tablespoonful brown sugar, one teaspoonful salt. When cooled to blood heat, ad one gill yeast. After standing for or five hours, put away for use in jugs, with cork securely tied.

Roger was drinking barley wine that night

Indie HopsI’m a sucker for a story that begins . . .

Roger was drinking barley wine that night.

Roger is a lawyer. His partner, Jim, is a former Nike executive whose great-great grandparents farmed hops in Norway.

They are starting a company called Indie Hops to supply Oregon-grown aroma hops to craft brewers.

The Willamette Valley’s rich alluvial soils, long summer days, family operated century farms, and pioneering spirit all combine to create the environment where world-class aroma hops thrive, in a culture that naturally supports craft brewing.

We have invested in the necessary infrastructure and partnered with leading farms to provide 100% Oregon-grown aroma varieties, some familiar and some unique, to craft brewers. Our intent is to earn the honor of being the preferred aroma hop resource for brewers across North America. Please join us in the pursuit of aroma varieties that inspire brew masters to create sensational beer for all to enjoy.

OK, we recently learned the world may be a little long hops right now, but these guys obviously have a long term plan.

And in Oregon, beer makes everything seem possible. The Portland Business Journal has a story about a soon-to-open brewpub, Coalition, one of “15 breweries or brewpubs — which sell beer made on the premises and food — that will have started operating in Portland between summer 2009 and early 2010.” Fifteen new breweries in richest brewery region in the world.

More hops! More hops! More hops!

The Associated Press has good news for us:

Some Yakima Valley hop growers are pulling other crops to plant the beer-flavoring ingredient and planting new acreage in response to a worldwide shortage that caught everyone – brewers, dealers and growers – by surprise.

This story makes me giddy.

Growers are feverishly reconditioning yards and adding new land at an unheard-of pace. Growers are receiving multiple-year contracts with prices front-loaded to help them shoulder the estimated $6,000-per-acre cost to plant yards and also upgrade equipment.

The story further reports that hops acreage expanded about 2,000 acres at the end of 2007 and could grow by another 5,000 this year. Ralph Olson of Hopunion thinks the figure could be closer to 8,000 acres, which would be a 25% jump in acreage.

“It’s basic economics,” said Ann George of the Washington Hop Commission. “When everyone started making orders, we found we had a shortage. The price went crazy. People are willing to spend large sums.”

And she correctly points out that prices will abate (which doesn’t have to mean they will plummet to the ridiculously low prices of recent years) when supply equals demand.

“The big challenge is finding the perfect balance. How do we hit that and keep the brewers happy and not go into oversupply?” she said.

Wimpy Midwest beers?

It would appear that this column with the headline “Yo, Johnny Budweiser: You can’t handle our bold microbrews” disrespects Midwest beers.

If sports rivalries are about more than just the teams, then Seattle vs. Pittsburgh in Detroit is also about the sometimes preposterously Epicurean Pacific Northwest vs. meat-and-potatoes land. The culture clash beneath this Super Bowl extends to Chad Microbrew vs. Joe Sixpack. Since beer is an indisputable part of football (Pyramid Alehouses report five times the normal business in their beer gardens during the two weeks of playoffs), it makes sense to check out our liquid lineup.

Here’s the premise:

There’s a reason for the bitterness in this rivalry, according to Shannon Borg, a writer for Northwest Palate and other food-and-drink publications: “Northwest brewers have basically learned from each other and have developed the ‘Northwest style’ of beer — not German, not English. Those beers are definitely more wimpy. Northwest style is very hoppy, and I think there’s a testosterone thing going on — they try to out-hop each other.”

Somebody needs to send this guy some beer from Three Floyds or Bell’s. (And, for you Midwest hopheads, those are but two examples.)

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