Raise a Glass, Hop Harvest Has Begun

Hop bines reaching skyward

The Dog Days Of Summer Have Reached Capracopia~Redwood Hill Farm.

In August as the heat index rises, our goats lazily lounge in shade under trees. The fruit of the olive begins to swell, and the flower field reaches its zenith. All while the hop bines tower into the blue sky on their trellis. Swaying happily in the warm west winds, their yellowing cones release aromatics that wet hops craft beer enthusiasts relish in their hazy dreams.

The First Harvest Of The Season Is In

Closeup of mature Cascade hop cones

Our 2nd year Cascade varietal was the first hops of 2020 to be ready. We cut down the hop bines at 8:30 in the morning and loaded into the trailer staged in the hopyard. By 9 AM, the twenty feet bines made their way over to the Wolf harvesting machine waiting to pluck the fragrant cones from the plants. Within half an hour, we had the hops harvested and ready to go into Crooked Goat Brewing, right here in our hometown of Sebastopol. The hops made their way from a goat farm with a hopyard, to a brewery with a goat mascot for their 4th consecutive year. Take a look into the process of our hop harvest with this VIDEO.

Fresh vs Dry, Taste The Difference

Fresh hops in the tank during the brewing process.

Like the hops for Crooked Goat, we sell hops fresh or “wet”. That means the day they are harvested, they are added into the beer. This gives the brewers a rare, seasonal chance to use fresh, local hops. Usually, brewers use dried hops from the Pacific Northwest—where most of the hops grow in the United States. The ability to use wet hops can be compared to a chef using a fresh herb such as basil if they are accustomed to only using dried basil. You can taste the freshness in wet hop beers.

We grow hops at Capracopia organically with no sprays or chemical fertilizers given. We feed the soil with our farm-made compost which in turn feeds the hops with all the nutrients and minerals they need to produce lupulin rich, beautiful hop cones.

Sonoma County’s Rich History With Hop Production

Early in the 20th century, Sonoma County was a mecca for hop production in California, producing half the state’s crop. Several factors led to Hopyards exiting Sonoma County’s agricultural scene and being replaced with apple orchards and vineyards. Thanks to a burgeoning craft beer scene in Sonoma County, hopyards are popping back up in Sonoma County on a boutique scale. At Capracopia, we are proud to supply 8-9 of these craft breweries with the finest possible local hops picked at their peak.

It’s Time For Wet Hop Beers At Your Local Brewpub

Glass of fresh hop beer alongside a hop cone.

In September, when you hop down to your favorite brewery, order a wet hop beer. Not only will you be supporting a local small business in the brewery, but you will also be supporting a local small farm. Wet hop beers are a seasonal delight, usually only seen on tap in September and October, so enjoy them while you can! If you happen to be in Sonoma County, you can taste the terroir of our beautiful land in each delicious sip. Cheers!

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