Tag Archives: Columbus

Ohio Hop Farm Research

The Ohio State University has a research farm in Piketon, OH and I was invited to attend an informational meeting on growing hops in Ohio along with a tour of their hop yard.

4 months of first year growth

There are no records of commercial hops operations in Ohio since around 1920. Back then the Ohio crops were virtually wiped out by downy mildew disease, something that is still a concern today… prohibition had to hurt a bit too.

That was nearly 100 years ago and things have hopefully changed for the better. Some may be asking why should THE Ohio State University (OSU), the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) care about hops?

First off they’re a very important part of beer, especially in IPAs which reign supreme among craft beer styes. Take that high demand combined with worldwide shortages in recent years and fewer folks growing less hops on the west coast, America’s current top hop spot.

I'm a poet and everyone wishes I didn't know it!!

Hops cones grow on a bine which grabs to the twine.

OSU cares even more about hops in Ohio due to the locavore trend. For a few years now more and more folks have wanted local produce and everyone wants to know how many of their local brewers ingredients are local. This is a question I’ve thrown at every brewer I’ve interviewed, their response is along the lines of “None, there aren’t any local ingredients available, but maybe some spices here or there.”

If OSU can help Ohio farmers grow Ohio hops then Ohio brewers can give Ohio residents a more local product.

Many folks were interested in what varieties were being tried. The core line up was Cascade, Nugget, Williamette, Columbus, Sterling, and Centennial with Galena, Mt. Hood, Hallertauer tradition, and Spalter Select as additional varieties. Without any doubt Columbus was growing the tallest with the most cones, cones being the part “where the magic happens”.

Cones

I turned to twitter to see if folks had question and provided answers below were I could:

  • @sudsanonymous: Are rhizomes planted at intervals to allow for more frequent harvests?
    • No one is doing this yet but the researchers seemed to think it was a great idea and may try it next year.
  • @L_AllenH: When I buy rhizomes some suggest planting vertically and others horizontally… what is the science behind it?
    • Doesn’t seem to matter because like they say in Jurassic park life will find a way. But do plant two rhizomes per spot to make sure at least one takes.
  • @BeerNFoodLover @rjbedinghaus, and @TyrannyBrewing all asked if farmers were doing whole or pellets and where those whole hops/pellets were for sale.
    • As of right now there are really only 2 people growing more then a few plants. They’ve both worked out arrangements with local brewers near them. One of those arrangements is whole hops, used in dry hoping, in exchange for Jackie O’s growlers… that’s my kind of arrangement. The other guy has a deal worked out with Yellow Springs Brewery, not sure the details there but if it involves Captain Stardust it’s a win!
  • @LooseScrewBeers: Whats the biggest problem they face growing hops in Ohio? Is it bugs? Fungal diseases? Other?
    • No one has seen fungal diseases or bugs yet but downy mildew is starting to set in on some plants, though they should be harvested any day now.

Going a bit further on @LooseScrewBeers question there are two pretty big impediments for Ohio farmers right now. First off they’re looking at about $10,000 per acre invested (not including land or labor) just to get the hops in the ground. Then you have to cut them down, pick them off the bines (not vines), and dry them. All three of those are very labor intensive activities that have yet to be efficiently automated…. though a machine meant for “medical” marijuana is showing some promise. After that $10,000 investment and that labor they’re looking at $2,000 yield the first year, hopefully going up to $7,000 in subsequent years. Which could put them at 3 – 5 years to pay off that initial investment… before making any profit.

I didn’t want to get overly heavy into the research that was done by OSU or the magic of hops; but hit me up if you’re curious and I’ll send you a copy of the material they handed out PLUS stay tuned to the blog because I plan a post on the science of the hop.

Lastly I also found out I’m not mature enough for a discussion about aged natural grass fed cattle fertilizer… which is the fanciest way I’ve ever heard anyone say cow shit.

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Beer Review: Rockmill Tripel

Rockmill is a semi-local brewery from Lancaster, Ohio. Lancaster is about 2 hours from here and slightly south-east of Columbus. They make the somewhat lofty claim that their local water ” is nearly identical in mineral content to that of Wallonia, Belgium, where Belgian ale originated.” They also use all organic ingredients in their beers. I’ve seen the Triple, Dubbel, and Witbier at various locations around town for a while now but have resisted trying them due to the $15 price. I drink a lot of beer and that gets expensive fast so when I’ve always opted for the $10 bomber/750 over the $15 one. I’m not sure why I changed my mind and finally picked this up but I’m glad I did!

Sorry for the poor quality

Brewery: Rockmill Brewery
Beer: Tripel
Style: Belgian Tripl
ABV: 9%
Calories: ~270 per glass

Super dense and cloudy orange brown with skim of white head.

Oh man, ultra pungent flowery aroma jumps out as soon as you pop the cork. Lots of spices, banana, cloves, loads of yeast, bit of bread.

Nice classic tripel flavors showing off some floral hops, much more banana taste, some other fruits like lemon and citrus stuff. Really nice and complex flavor.

Medium body with a pretty smooth feeling and a fair bit of carbonation.

No real sense of the 9% which is nice that you can enjoy this without it being in your face. Super awesomely complex aroma and taste are both very enjoyable. I strongly regret waiting so long to have this. $15 is kinda steep and is why I held off so long but honestly for a very small brewery making beers like this it’s not an unfair price. One thing to note was how hard it was to get the cork out. I’m not sure what that means but I had to get out the wine opener and fight with it a bit. Also kinda accidentally poured the yeast in and didn’t keep it separated too well.

This review was just on their tripel but coincidentally and unbeknownst to me  fellow Cinci beer blogger Queen City Beer Nerd has just posted a review of the dubbel. I picked this bottle up at Jungle Jim’s Eastgate and you can check the Rockmill website for other locations around town as there are a few too many to list here.

I enjoyed this so much that I’m going to find some time this summer to get out to the brewery and try their other beers. I will, of course, let everyone know what I discover out in the rural Ohio countryside!

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Beer Review: Columbus Brewing Company Bodhi

Looking for a great, highly rated, draft only, IPA that you can only get in one city? Skip the plane ticket to Cali or Vermont and drive on up to Columbus instead! When I say this is highly rated I mean a 98 on both Rate Beer and Beer Advocate plus on Beer Advocate’s list of top Double IPAs this comes in at #20 making it the “best” DIPA in Ohio!

The Columbus Brewing Company has been making their double IPA, Bodhi, for a few years now and have kept it on draft only and rarely distribute those kegs outside of the Columbus area. Luckily it’s relatively easy to score in Columbus and quite a few places offer growler fills of it. My wonderful wife had a work conference in Columbus this weekend and was kind enough to pick up a growler of this for me!

Bodhi (pronounced bow-dee) is a sanskrit word from Buddhism which is roughly translated as enlightenment or awakening. Lets see if it’s hops awaken by taste buds to the same level of love that others give this beer.

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Beer Review: Fat Head’s Head Hunter

I had never heard of Fat Heads or their Head Hunter until a new beer-friend hooked me up with a 6-pack of random bottles. When I found out this was from Ohio and that it had won this crazy number of medals I got pretty excited. Here are some of those awards:

  • 2012 World Beer Cup American Style IPA –  Silver
  • 2011 Great American Beer Fest – American-Style IPA – Bronze
  • 2010 Great American Beer Fest – American Style IPA – Silver
  • 2009 Draft Magazine – Top 25 beers in the world

But I don’t buy into the hype of awards all too much. From what I’ve seen there are loads of competitions out there and if you find one specific enough you’re guaranteed a medal in it. Bottom line though is that this beer has some clout and hype behind it, time to find out what I think.

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Beer Review: Stone Levitation Ale

The last of the beers Stone sent to me. Gives me a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy because my OCD tendencies have been satiated and I can move onto all the other beers in my fridge (Green Flash here I come!). Sadness because that’s the  last of my free Stone beer.

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Beer Review: Green Flash Hop Head Red

My friend scored this beer for me a few days before all those Stones came in and I decided to take a break from the Stones and give this a go. Green Flash is rapidly growing as one of my favorite breweries. I only discovered them recently due to a friend (the same friend who hooked up the Hop Head Red) and luckily, unlike some other recent breweries I’ve found, Green Flash is widely available in Ohio! In the past I’ve had their Palate Wrecker DIPA (review here) and The Hop Head Red (review here) both of which I loved it. I’m excited to try my favorite beer style from one of my new favorite breweries. On to the beer!

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