This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the latest hopyard to dig its roots in Orlando at the Fox Valley Farm.
Hopyards are a magical place. Whether you are an experienced brewer or a novice to beer, or even if you don’t like beer at all, any of us can find appreciation of the hop bines.
That’s right: bines, not vines. Bines have a stem that wraps around what its growing on. Vines have little tendrils, almost like arms and hands, that branch out and cling to whatever it can as it grows.
Hops are a gorgeous flower with a fresh, distinct smell. Cascade hops are most commonly grown down here on the farms (which is an extremely new addition to Orlando). They have a bright, juicy, citrus smell that just lights me up from my head to my feet. The aroma takes me straight to a pint glass of a juicy IPA, or when I homebrewed for the very first time.
Picking hops is one of my favorite things to do. This was only my second time (as I stated, this is a very novel thing in Orlando). I bought three pounds of fresh, wet hops to use in a beer that I will be brewing sometime in the near future.
I love watching the bines dance in the wind, like I was able to on this stunning, sunny Saturday. I also got to hear the story of the Fox Valley Farm and learned about all the other projects and produce growing nearby. They plan to grow olives, some exotic fruits, and currently have farm fresh eggs. I can’t wait to see what it will look like the next time I visit.
Their story (my abridged version): There was an original Fox family who lived on the property who sold it to another family by the name of FOX! Those are the owners of the farm now. Make no mistake about this divine intervention, this was meant to be. Both families seem to have a love for hops and beer, and they are just such wonderful people, full of knowledge and so down-to-earth!
If you missed this harvest, don’t worry. There will be another one sometime this summer!
Have you ever been to a hopyard or hop farm? Have you ever had experience brewing fresh hops? Tell me in the comments below! I love hearing your thoughts and reading your stories.