Monday, September 6, 2010

Harvest Time! Weird Scenes Inside the Green Gold Mine.
Hoppy Readers: Please join me on a quick tour of Goschie Farms during the hop harvest in late August, 2010.

Whole lotta shaking going on! From the back of the truck workers fasten the hop heavy bines to a conveyor and then sent through a gauntlet of thrashers which strip the cones from the bines, sidearms and stems. The action, sights and sounds are both deafening and invigorating. More twists, turns, drops, jolts and jumps than the corkscrew coaster at Six Flags.

Matt Sage, above, embracing Gayle’s Green Bounty. Normally Matt’s going 100mph with his hair on fire. I’ve never seen him this cool and collected. Must be the opium in those Willamette hops. From the picking room, the hops are conveyored over to the kiln and drying rooms.

Here the green gold falls from the belt like fruit from a tree onto the drying room floors. Goschie Farms has six hot air blowers which heat the raw cones up to about 140 degrees F just long enough to leave about 10% of the cone’s original moisture.

Check out the sea of green above. The drying room is in a coverted barn that’s been the heart and soul of Goschie Farms for decades. The picture doesn’t show it, but the room is very, very humid. Poke your head in there and your glasses instantly fog up.

Handcrafted hops. We like to talk about our hops are grown with Tender Loving Care and processed with attention to quality over quantity. Here’s a worker who meticulously culls from the hop piles before drying any and all leafs, branches or other debris. A labor of love.

Again, here’s the normally peripatetic but now fully sedated Matt in full hop zen mode. “If you find yourself floating in a sea of green, close your eyes , relax your shoulders, and let your mind open up. You can hear the hops chanting: brew me, brew me, brew me,” says Matt.

Glory be to Gayle in all her hop glory. Gayle Goschie, second from left, flanked by intrepid hop travelers, from left to right, Dan Kopman (Schlafly), Yours Soberly, and that ball of fire, Matt Sage, at the base of Mount Willamette.

Fruits of Labor. Here’s the end result: densely packed 200 lb bales of hops. Bales are then trucked about 3 miles down a flower strewn farm road to Indie Hops clean, green pellet mill, where Captain Jim Solberg awaits in the catbird of his forklift, ready to offload the bounty into our cooler, where the oily cones are frozen down to 26F. A few days later they’re converted into big fat oily pellets before being packaged in oxygen purged foils and sent right back into the cooler awaiting delivery to your kettle.

Roger Worthington

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