Dec 31, 2017
As 2017 winds down, we thought we'd take a minute to reflect on the year past and look forward to the future.
The start of 2017 found us with a small hop yard planted, but without having ever grown a single hop plant. It was a real leap of faith for us to prepare for an additional 1 acre before we had our first harvest. But that's what we did. A winter of researching, planning, and acquiring.
As soon as the ground thawed, we hit it hard. 3 months more or less of every weekend culminating in the stringing of the hop yard in mid May. We had great enthusiasm and high hopes for hops.
The reality of first year hops was a hard lesson to learn. We expected massive plants reaching to the wire, and cash falling from the sky. Instead we found plants establishing root systems and competing with the weeds. We did our diligence in validating the soil conditions, verifying the irrigation system was performing as expected, and we pulled weeds. Alot. Every week. On our hands and knees.
Our plants which were planted in the fall of 2016 outperformed everything we planted in 2017, and by July we had those towering bines we had dreamed of. It was this success I think which kept us going all summer.
August was brutally hot and dry. Our saving grace was/is the fantastic infrastructure of the Bow River Irrigation District. Our plants thrived in the sunshine with lots to drink. Our weeders suffered. In the end we hired workers to save our knees and sanity.
Labour day saw us celebrate the years end with a pig roast, home brew competition, and ramping up for harvest.
Our hops went to two breweries. Origin Malting and brewing who made a Black IPA, and Outcast Brewing who made a NEIPA. We enjoyed both beers alot. Origin hosted a launch event for us where we invited friends and family to celebrate with us, and the Outcast beer was the star of the show at the first event Alberta Hops Producers Association event.
Looking forward now to 2018, we will take our successes and failures from the past year and apply them forward. The existing hop yard should be a far different place come the middle of May. We'll cut the extra hop shoots and root them in pots for planting in the new hop yard this summer.
We've got plans for 2 additional acres of trellis through the summer with a goal of moving propagated plants to the ground by August.
A mechanized harvester, a drying oast and pelletizer are all on the books for this year.
Our goal for this blog is to share weekly updates and photos on our progress once the first plant emerges. Until then, you'll hear from us monthly.
We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a note @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hit us on Twitter @pairodicehops. And we'll be hosting guests for tours all summer long. Just book ahead so we are here to greet you, and not on the golf course.