Hop Picking

One of my favorite local breweries, Sebago Brewery, held a hop picking party today. They asked for volunteers to help pick this year's hop harvest in exchange for free beer and lunch. Free food and beer? Naturally I was in!

I had never actually seen a hop, and in my mind they looked like little mexican jumping beans. I mean they are called hops right? Actually they look like little fuzzy green pinecones and grow on long vines. They grow up on the vines on tree trunks or old telephone poles that are stuck in the ground. I didn't know hops were grown in Maine, but all the hops we picked were grown in the state, and harvested within the last couple days.

After arriving at the brewery we posed for a few pictures and then set to work.

 At our table were 2 brothers who actually own one of the hop farms, Rock Island Hop Farm. That was pretty neat because they explained a lot about the hop growing process. Their hop farm is only a couple years old and they do it as a hobby right now, but they hop to make it a full time job in the future.

The actual picking was pretty easy. The hops pop right off. They also have a great smell- like beer, but really fresh and almost piney. We did find all kinds of interesting bugs and catapillors as we picked. We took advantage of the free beer as we picked too- we tried the hop swap, a summer ale, and the Frye's Leap IPA.

Lunch was pretty awesome too. I had one of their awesome pretzel rolls and a delicious assortment of anti-pasto veggies- eggplant, sweet potato, mushrooms, and zucchini.

We shared our table with various people as the day progressed. The time just flew by between the beer and the great conversation. Many hands really do make light work, by 2pm we had emptied several trucks full of hops! It was an awesome way to learn more about the beer making process, I definately can't wait til the local hop beer is released this fall and I can drink the fruit of my labors.