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
Our Wolf 220 Picker came over from Germany. With lots of spinning fingers, vacuums, and conveyor belts, the hop cones go out one way and the stems, leaves, and string another.
The cones are then fed into a four-tiered louvered floor dryer. Forced hot air and time get their moisture down to around 10%. The dried hops condition on the cool warehouse floor before we bale them and store them in cold storage until it's time to pelletize.
Pelletization is a multi-step process. Bales are loaded into a bale breaker where they are broken up and sent into the hammer mill which grinds it into a chunky powder. From there, a silo provides a holding tank until they're augered into a mixer. After the mixer is arguably the most important step of the entire year - sending the hop powder through the pellet mill. There are three bolts that tighten the rollers to the dye. Slight changes affect the compression of the pellets and how hot the pellets and dye get. Throughout pelletizing, we are constantly monitoring and tweaking it to ensure perfect pellets that don't exceed 120°. Crazy, all of harvest comes down to three bolts.
From the mill, the pellets go through a cooling drum and 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 delicious beer!
"I love these hops! They are the nicest Crystals I have ever smelled!"
- Head Brewer, Steel Bender Brewyard