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Beer Begins In The Dirt

Yaquina Rhizome web cropBeer begins in the dirt.

We were reminded of that this week when we planted our new variety of aroma hops here at Rogue Farms. No fancy hop planting equipment to do the job for us. Just a bunch of shovels, hole digging, and a ton of dirt.

The dirt here has a long and cherished history. It came from hundreds of miles away to the Northeast, from the volcanic covered fields of Washington and British Columbia. Massive ice age floods scoured the earth as they rushed from the Idaho panhandle, across eastern Washington, and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. When the flood waters came to a natural dam north of Portland they paused, filling the Willamette Valley like an oversized bathtub. And when they paused, they let go of the dirt, burying the valley in hundreds of feet of rich volcanic sediment.

The same dirt we got to play in this week.

Brewmaster John Maier holding a Yaquina Hop rhizome.

Brewmaster John Maier holding a Yaquina Hop rhizome.

The Yaquina hops are named for Yaquina Bay in our hometown of Newport, Oregon. John and Rogue have been brewing beer on Yaquina Bay for nearly 25 years.

Planting Yaquina Hops07 web

We planted five acres of Yaquina hops.

Digging each hole by hand.

Digging each hole by hand.

And placing the rhizomes in the soil, one at a time.

And placing the rhizomes in the soil, one at a time.

Planting Yaquina Hops18 web

It’s starting to look like a hopyard.

The new Yaquina hops have a stronger aroma profile than the variety they’re replacing. When we first harvest them in the fall of 2014, John will have a whole new palate of hop flavors to work with as he creates new and interesting beers.

Revolutions never rest.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Thoughts and Sundry Things and commented:
    Passing this along because Rogue is one of my favorite breweries. Their Dead Guy Ale was one of few good beers I could find on tap when we lived in Mississippi. I also like the post’s tribute to…well…dirt. To its geological heritage and to how the hops in our beer passes on that heritage. Cheers!

    June 10, 2013
    • Laura,

      Thank you for reblogging this post. Last year, a group of soil scientists came to the farm to study our dirt. One of them was so interested she grabbed a small chunk, put it in her mouth and chewed it to examine the texture. We love our dirt, but that seemed a bit too much, even for us.

      Rogue Farms

      June 17, 2013

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