A field of Risk barley with Tygh Ridge in the background.
We’re just back from an inspection of the Risk™ malting barley fields and the condition of the crop is amazing. We can’t remember the last time we had such a beautiful field of Risk™ barley this early in the year.
The shoots are anywhere from two to six inches high – depending on when we planted them last fall – and a lush green color. Normally, you’re going to find some wilting, curling, brown spots and other discoloration. Those are signs you might have an infestation of pests or disease. We didn’t see anything worth fretting over.
We’ll step up inspections as we get closer to spring. It’s easier to deal with problems when you spot them early. But so far, 2013 is off to a great start.
Rogue Farms knows bees and will soon be building more nucs to add more colonies to increase honey production.
Nuc is beekeeping slang for nucleus, a small group of workers, drones, a new queen and a mini-hive with enough food and brood to get them started on becoming their own colony.
Beekeepers buy nucs to add more colonies and increase honey production. Or they may build a nuc from one of their current colonies. This splits the hive and prevents swarming.
Either way, the key to a successful nuc is making sure the new queen gets along with the workers before she’s introduced. A special device, called a queen excluder, separates the queen from the rest of the hive until it’s clear that everyone is getting along.
– The workers are feeding the new queen through the excluder.
– The workers are trying to kill the new queen – also known as balling the queen.
– The workers are producing emergency queen cells, which means they’ve rejected the new queen and want to produce one of their own.
Whether a nuc is a success or a failure should be obvious in about eight days. After that it’s okay to remove the excluder. And then after about a month, the new colony can be moved out of the mini-hive and into a regular one and begin foraging and producing honey.
One of the byproducts of the Rogue Farms Honey harvest is beeswax – lots of beeswax.
The Rogue Farms Honeybees produce beeswax for a variety of reasons. One of them is to cap off full honeycombs and preserve the honey as it mellows and ages.
Slicing the beeswax off the honeycombs.
When our Rogue Beekeeper, Josh, harvests the honey, he first slices off beeswax caps from the honeycombs. That’s what allows him to extract the honey in the spinner. But that’s not the end of it for the beeswax. This week, he melted it, strained it to remove impurities and then let it cool into solid blocks.
Beeswax has another life beyond harvest. It’s used in soap and candles. It’s also used to build what’s called honeycomb foundations. These are honeycomb designs that are stamped into beeswax, framed and put into the hive. They become the foundation for the new honeycombs the bees will build the following spring and summer. A place to keep their brood and store honey that we’ll harvest again next fall.
Rogue Farms 19 Original Colonies Mead is brewed using 5 ingredients: Rogue Hopyard Honey, Wild Flower Honey, Jasmine Silver Tip Green Tea Leaves, Champagne Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water. No Chemicals, additives or preservatives were used.
Click here to watch the Rogue Farms Honey Harvest YouTube Video
The Rogue Dare Pumpkins have been picked from the Hopyard and have arrived at the Rogue Ales Brewery in Newport, Oregon. Christina, our brewmaster from the Rogue Ales Public House Eugene, has joined in on the fun – washing and cutting open the pumpkins and then chopping them up into chunks in preparation for roasting.
The average Rogue Farms Dream Pumpkin weighs 5 lbs and 5,217 lbs were brought to the brewery from the Rogue Farm. Still covered in dirt, each pumpkin needed to be washed prior to being chopped, scraped, roasted and brewed.
After a thorough cleaning, the pumpkins have their stem removed and are chopped into smaller pieces using the official Rogue Pumpkin Slicer – the machete. Each slice needs to have the pulpy interior removed and leave only the good part, the outer shell of the pumpkin.
The Dream Pumpkins are then roasted in the Rogue Nation Pizza Oven (tray by tray) for about 45 minutes each. After all the pumpkins have been roasted, they are pitched directly into the lauter tun for brewing. We brew the Chatoe Pumpkin Patch Ale with ginger, vanilla bean, cinnamon and nutmeg. Look for it on shelves starting this October. When you grow it, you know it. From ground to glass, patch to batch, Rogue grows its own.
With the 2012 harvest of our seven varieties of GYO Aroma hops now behind us, now we’re ready to enjoy the bounty. A bottle of Chatoe Rogue Lager, Pilsner, Wet Hop Ale, Roguenbier and Mead. All of them are brewed with the ingredients we planted, grew, cultivated and harvested right here at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon.
The hop harvest was completed a few days ago as the Alluvial hops – the last of our seven varieties to be harvested – were bottom cut, top cut, stripped, separated, sorted, kilned, cooled and baled.
Getting here was quite the challenge. From the 100 year floods of January, to the blizzards and floods of March, to the slow start in April and May that had us more than just a little worried, to the bright sunny days of July and August that brought out thousands of beautiful tiny hop cones and wiping away all our doubts. This was one unforgettable season!
The GYO hops at the Rogue Farms hopyard in Independence are ready for harvest, and you know what that means: Wet Hop Ale. Freedom Hops were hand picked by Rogue Brewmaster John Maier this week. A 98 minute drive to our brewery in Newport, Oregon later, those still wet hops were added to the brew kettle to make Wet Hop Ale. Keep your eye out for it in the coming weeks!
Rogue Brewmaster John Maier inspecting the hops at the Rogue Farms Hopyard in Independence, OR.
Hand-picking the Freedom Hops.
98 minutes later: pitching the wet hops into the brew kettle at the Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon
The finished product.
Stay tuned on updates on our Dream Rye Harvest at the Rogue Farm in Independence, Oregon- it’ll happen any day now!