South Dakota Hops

Just South of Rapid City, the Firehouse hop farm comes alive with activity as harvest begins.
What is a hop you ask? Hops are the pine cone like flowers of a female climbing plant in the cannabis
family. They’re grown on enormous trellises as tall as 18 feet.
Hops have an unmistakably bitter aroma and flavor. Not only do they contribute to the bitterness that counterbalances the sweetness of barley in beer, they also add flavors, aromas and act as a preservative. Each kind of hop is distinctive in its bittering, aroma and flavor profile. The differences between them are sometimes very subtle. Each hop variety is more or less bitter (much like our brewer Mike Kilroy when we post photos of him on the internet wearing a pink bunny suit). It’s our job to learn about each hop and determine which ones taste best in
our recipes.
Hop harvesting can be tedious, but this year’s crop is shaping up to be a great one! First, the bines are cut at ground level, then at the top near the trellis. Then, the delicate hop flowers are hand separated and sorted to remove the twigs, leaves and bines. While fresh hops make excellent beer, they lose flavor quickly.
To preserve our hops we dry a portion to reduce moisture levels and increase shelf-life.

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