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Everything You Didn’t Know About Hops And Prohibition

One of the most common questions we get during tours of Rogue Farms goes something like this, “What happened to hops during prohibition?”. We love this question because the answer is always such a surprise.

Hop pickers at the Wigrich Ranch circa 1928. Today this is the location of Rogue Farms of Independence, Oregon.

Hop pickers at the Wigrich Ranch circa 1928. Today this is the location of Rogue Farms of Independence, Oregon.

Prohibition was devastating to American brewing. Thousands of small breweries disappeared, never to return. But if Prohibitionists were trying to kill hops, they failed miserably.

Here in Oregon, Prohibition was the start of a long boom in hops farming. From 1919 to 1933, hop acreage doubled in the state and production tripled.

So what happened? World War I.

The so-called War To End All Wars devastated European agriculture. Many of the centuries old hopyards of Germany and Austria were left in ruins. To keep their patrons happy, the breweries of our wartime enemies would become our best customers during peacetime.

Whether by chance or by grand design, WWI was over about a year before the start of Prohibition. As the domestic market for Oregon hops disappeared overnight, the international market exploded.

US Troops returning home at the end of WWI in 1919.

US Troops returning home at the end of WWI in 1919.

By the time German and Austrian hop growers recovered, Prohibition was finished and Oregonians were ready and willing to quench the thirst of American beer lovers. The Willamette Valley remained a powerhouse of world hops production for another two decades, a period that includes the Great Depression and World War II.

Join Us For The Hop Harvest At Rogue Farms

This year’s Hop Harvest is underway at Rogue Farms. Over the next couple of  weeks we’ll be cutting, picking, sorting, kilning, cooling and baling our seven varieties of hops. Come out and see us in action, or relax with one of our farm grown beers at the Chatoe Rogue Tasting Room. When you visit, please be aware of harvest equipment on the roads. Keep your dogs and children in sight. We’re open every day during the harvest season.

The 2015 Hop Harvest At Rogue Farms.

The 2015 Hop Harvest At Rogue Farms.

At Rogue Farms we grow beers, spirits, ciders and sodas from ground to glass!

roguefarms grow the revolution_web

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