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Planting Our Faith In The Soil

Farming is a leap of faith.

Planting Yaquina hops at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon..

Planting Yaquina hops at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon..

Plant, water, cultivate and hope. No matter how hard you try, or how good you are, eventually you place your fate into the hands of Mother Nature.

Harvesting Rogue Farms Wigrich Corn.

Harvesting Rogue Farms Wigrich Corn.

At Rogue Farms we collaborate with Mother Nature to grow the ingredients for our beers, spirits, ciders and sodas. Here’s what we’ve learned in nearly a decade of farming.

Pineapples Don’t Grow In Oregon

We’ve never brewed a pineapple beer. But even if we wanted to craft one, we won’t grow our own pineapples in Oregon. The terroir is all wrong. No amount of wishing will turn this place into a tropical paradise. Nor will global warming.

But…  Oregon has great beer and spirits terroir. Hops and malting barley, two of beer’s key ingredients, thrive here because of the soil, climate and latitude. Pairing the right crops to the local terroir is how we work with Mother Nature, not against it.

Revolution Hops 2 Aug 2014

The cool, wet winters and warm, sunny summers of Rogue Farms are an ideal match for the growth stages of hops.

Risk 3 June 2013

Risk™ malting barley ripening at Rogue Farms of Tygh Valley, in the rain shadow of Mt. Hood.

Roll With The Punches

Eventually Mother Nature will throw you a curveball.

The first time we saw winter floodwaters coming pouring into our hopyard, it was unnerving. But we kept things in perspective knowing that hops have thrived here despite these floods for more than a century. As it turns out, our hops love a good winter soak.

Centuries of flooding created the soil here at Rogue Farms, and the annual winter floods replenish it.

Centuries of flooding created the soil here at Rogue Farms, and the annual winter floods replenish it.

When we picked our hops the following summer, it was our best harvest ever.

But things don’t always work out how we want. The last two winters we lost 10-20 acres of our Risk™ malting barley to freezing temperatures and frost. The usual snow cover that protects barley shoots from extreme cold was absent.

The following spring, we plowed, disced and harrowed the damaged acres and replanted it with our Dare™ malting barley. It was just a matter of timing.

Left: A heavy frost on our Risk malting barley last winter. Right: We replanted the acres the following spring.

Left: A heavy frost on our Risk™ malting barley last winter. Right: We replanted the acres the following spring.

Take Risks

Our motto is Dare, Risk, Dream.

People thought we were off our rockers when we first planted jalapeños. These hot peppers originated in Mexico and today most US jalapeños are grown in the deserts of New Mexico. The terroir there is nothing like it is here in Oregon.

But led by our dreams of crafting Chipotle Ale from peppers we grew ourselves, we took the risk and planted a small crop. All we had to do was adjust the planting date to take advantage of the sunny and warm summers of the Willamette Valley. This year we planted two acres of jalapeños, growing enough peppers for Brewmaster John Maier to brew Chipotle Ale and for our distillers to craft the first batches of Chipotle Whiskey.

Jalapeno Harvest

This year’s bumper crop of jalapeños. They too love the bright sun of a Willamette Valley summer.

Mother Nature has treated us well, all things considered. From our first crops of hops and barley, we now grow more than two dozen ingredients, creating a proprietary palate of flavors so that John can keep on crafting his unique and excellent brews.

Heading into winter, we know more surprises are on the way. We’ll deal with them the best we can. Come out to Rogue Farms and join us in the Revolutionary adventure of growing beers and spirits from ground to glass. We’ll keep the heat on and the beer flowing.

Grow_The_Revolution

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Whiskey And Whisky For The Everyday Man.

    November 5, 2015
    • Thanks Samuel,

      We appreciate what you’re doing to share the love of whisk(e)y.

      Rogue Farms

      November 5, 2015
      • I appreciate the depth and breadth of your contributions as well.

        November 5, 2015

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