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Billy Goat Hop Farm Sunset

our process

The short and skinny of it

As winter lets go to make way for spring, the hops are pruned. This is also called "crowning." Depending on the year and variety, we prune the hops in one of two ways, either mechanically or by burning. Pruning is the best way to eliminate any disease that has wintered over in the plants' crowns.

Once spring arrives, we begin to "string up," which means tying individual threads of coconut coir to the cable on top of the 18-foot tall trellis. This is very labor intensive as each of the over 60,000 strings is hand-tied and then clipped into the ground by hand. Training immediately follows stringing. Training is just as it sounds: bines of each plant are taken and wrapped clockwise up the coir that was just put in. This shows or "trains" the hop plant the way to grow and ensures the right amount of the healthiest bines go up.

Into the heat of the summer, the hops first go up, tall and skinny, until they switch to side-arm growth and fatten up.  As summer approaches autumn, the hop cones become robust and filled with lovely aromatic essential oils. This is when they are ready for harvest. All of the bines are chopped down one by one and fed into our Wolf picker, which separates the hops from their bine. The hops are then dried, cooled, pelletized, and packaged, awaiting their final destination of a brew kettle near you.

 

- Dried under 120°
- Pelletized in a low-temperature mill in  cold  storage
- Double nitrogen  purged
- Vacuum sealed
- 11 lb Mylar bags
- Hands-on growing to  use  less herb and  pesticides  and maintain healthy soils
- Learn more about our sustainability here.

Did you know hops are a BINE, not a vine?  On a bine, the stem itself twists around, verses a vine that sends out tendrils to hold on. 

the nuts and bolts of it

We use two Wolf 220 Pickers, which came over from Germany. With lots of spinning fingers, vacuums, and conveyor belts involved, the stems, leaves, and string are shifted one way and the hop cones the other.

From there, the cones are then fed into a four-tiered louvered floor dryer where forced hot air and time are used to reduce their moisture to around 10%. Once dried, our hops are placed on the cool warehouse floor to condition before being baled, and then they are moved into cold storage until it's time to pelletize.

Hops

Pelletization is a multi-step process. First, the bales are loaded into a bale breaker, to be broken up before being ground to a chunky powder by the hammer mill. From there, the powder drops into a mixing tank and then is augered on to what is arguably the most important step of the entire year, the pellet milling. At this stage, even the slightest changes affect the pellets' compression and the dye's temperature. The entire field passes through this mill, and the fate of its quality depends on the minute changes in tightness of the three bolts that tighten the rollers to the dye, which fluctuates with oil content, moisture, and temperature.  We constantly monitor and tweak throughout pelletizing to ensure perfect pellets that don't exceed 120°. Ultimately, it seems wild to think the entire harvest comes down to three bolts!

From the mill, the pellets go through a cooling drum where they’re spread out until they're below 50°.  We then double nitrogen purge and vacuum seal the pellets in mylar bags to ensure no oxygen remains in the package. After that, they're ready to be a part of your next delicious craft beer. 

"I love these hops! They are the nicest Crystals I have ever smelled!"
 

- Head Brewer, Steel Bender Brewyard

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