Drink Magazine

Hop Harvest in Motion: A Photographic Essay

By I Think About Beer @ithinkaboutbeer

Hop Farm Tour

Every Year, Full Sail Brewing gathers up a large group of people for a trip to a local, Willamette Valley hop farm.  Sodbuster Farms has long been one of Full Sail’s farming partners.  The trip is always a blast as it’s composed of retailers, bartenders, wholesalers, and beer writers.  There’s plenty of Full Sail beer to enjoy and great Barbecue  to eat.  It’s also a chance to visit one of the farms the provides ingredients to our beers.  Most Americans are very separated from the source of their food and drink.  This gives beer lovers an opportunity to reconnect the product they drink with the hard-working people who grow the ingredients from the earth.  (These photographs were taken on the 2012 trip).

Hop Harvest in Motion

Starting the Hop Motion at Sodbuster Farms

Let’s start the motion of the Hop Harvest at Sodbuster Farms, near Salem, OR.

Down the Row

Down the row he creeps, cutting down the hop vines from the top.

Cutting from the Top

The lines, already cut at the bottom, are cut and thrown down by this specialized machine.

Catching Them at the Bottom

The falling hop vines are captured in the bed of an awaiting truck.

A Brief Stop Before Restarting

Trucks loaded with hops have a brief stop as they wait for the previous truck to be cleared of its cargo.

Up to the Separation Machine

From the bed of the truck, the hop vines are loaded onto hooks and taken up along the ceiling on their trip to the hop separation machine.

Vines, Say Goodbye to Your Hops

The vines, gliding along their track, are about to be stripped of their hop cones.

Separated Hops Falling

The precious hop cones are no longer hanging from their vines, but falling towards the floor.

Down the Drain

Separated from their vines, the hops are funneled down the drain and up a conveyor belt.

Moving on High

Across the parking lot, high above, the fresh hops are conveyed from the stripping barn to the drying barn.

Flying to the Dryer

The fresh, wet hops are poured onto the drying floor covered with a huge, net like cloth.

Filling the Drying Floor

The hops are spread evenly over the cloth which covers a grated floor. Hot air is then blown up through the grated floor, the cloth, and then the hops.

Dragging the Dried Hops

The hops move towards the next stage as the cloth is wound onto huge, mechanized bolts.

Dried and Conveyed and Falling

Down the hops fall! The next conveyor belt carries the dried hops away from the drying floor.

Before the Baling, the Piling

The newly dried hops fall onto a giant pile where they wait for the next stage of their journey.

Up, Up, and Away

A small tractor pushes the hops onto a conveyor belt shooting towards the ceiling in the direction of the baling machine.

Squishing the Bale

The hops are dumped down a compactor which squishes them into a bale. The compactor retracts allowing the cloth to be sewn around the bale.

Wrapping the Bale

The workers carefully, but quickly pull the thick cloth around the bale and sew it shut with a small hand sewing machine.

Fresh Hops, Stopping Motion in the Cold Room

For now, the hops stop their harvest motion in the cold room where they await the next stage of their journey – to the brewery. Fresh Hop Cascades, anyone?

Stopping the Motion

I’d like to extend a special thanks to Full Sail Brewing for creating this wonderful event and to Sodbuster Farms for hosting a bunch of beer lovers.  If you get a chance to go on this trip, or one similar near your home, take it.  Besides it being fun, it’s wonderful to be able to connect the product you love with those who help make it possible.  This event, and events like it, brings the full chain into one place: Farmer, Brewer, Wholesaler, Retailer, Consumer.


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