The trellises are clear of bines, the hopyard has been plowed, and we planted wheat as a winter cover crop to protect the soil from erosion. During winter, life on the Hopyard proceeds at a more relaxed pace. In some ways the Hopyard is more beautiful than ever, with time to appreciate the wide open views of the surrounding farm land and the Willamette River.
In the greenhouse, we have begun to experiment with different varieties of GYO Certified hops to use in our Ales, Porters, Stouts and Lagers. Just like our current seven varieties, each will reflect the unique terroir of the Wigrich Appellation.
Growing Our Own…Champions
All the hard work on the Hopyard has paid off. Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale won the Northwest Champion award at the United States Beer Tasting Championships. OREgasmic Ale is brewed with 100% Rogue ingredients, including GYO Certified Independent & Revolution Hops.
Men’s Health Magazine also named Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic one of the “Best Foods for Men.”
Family Fun in the Pumpkin Patch
We wrapped up the harvest season on the Hopyard with a family style Pumpkin Patch Party. Earlier this year, we planted two varieties of pumpkins, Dream & Leroy-O-Lantern. We grew, harvested, chopped, and roasted the GYO Certified Dream Pumpkins to create Chatoe Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale, which we released for the first time at the Party.
The GYO Certified Leroy-O-Lantern Pumpkins are perfect for carving, so we offered a free pumpkin to Rogue Nation Citizens and their families.
We had lawn games, a Family Photo Station, and hauled out the antique hops scale from the baler building so kids could weigh their pumpkins and claim bragging rights about who had the biggest and heaviest. They also met our Free Range Chicks, Royal Palm Turkeys, and the newest additions to the Hopyard family our Potbellied pigs, Voo and Doo.
Sharing the Bounty
Even with such a great turnout, we still had some pumpkins left over. Natascha loaded 70 of our GYO Dream pumpkins into the truck and drove them to Dallas, Oregon where they were donated to the Willamette Valley Food Assistance Program.
The Dream pumpkins are a sweet tasting variety – similar to the ones traditionally used to create pies, soups, cookies and purees.
Long Live the General
We had as many as five roosters among our Free Range Chicks, but now we’re down to one. The four unlucky fowl were – as Chatoe Rogue Manager Natascha likes to describe it – culled from the brood. We had no choice. Only one can rule the roost or there will be too much conflict.
You might think that the winner was the biggest and baddest bird of them all. Not so. The selection process was anything but Darwinian. Natascha chose to keep the lowest guy on the pecking order because she thought his crooked comb made him different and cuter than the others. We like different. She named him General Tsao.
The General is celebrating his surprising good fortune, learning to strut his stuff, and gets along great with our dog Sully. And since he doesn’t crow much, the Hopyard is a lot quieter in the mornings.
Meanwhile the hens are busier than ever. They’re laying about four to five eggs a day.
Turkeys In The Fog
This time of year brings foggy mornings to the Hopyard, but that didn’t stop our two Royal Palm Turkeys from sauntering over to the Chatoe Rogue and checking out the Halloween decorations. Tom is getting to that age where he’ll spend all day displaying. Natascha says it must be exhausting! But Juniper doesn’t even seem to notice, until Tom wanders off and she can’t see him. Then she calls out for him and won’t stop until he’s back in view.
The Hazelnuts Have Landed
The Rogue Farms Hazelnut harvest got underway towards the end of October as the trees in the orchard finally decided it was time to let go and the nuts began falling.
We get our hazelnuts from Kirk Family Filberts, our next door neighbors on Wigrich Road. The Kirks spent most of September and October getting ready for the harvest on their 98 acre orchard. Mowers and scrapers crept through the trees, removing debris from the ground and creating a clean orchard floor where the nuts would land. Meanwhile, other farmhands were testing the harvesting and processing equipment, checking the bearings and belts, and installing a new dryer.
All this had to be done well ahead of time because you never quite know when the harvest will begin. The timing is up to Mother Nature. The Kirks were prepared by early October, but cool and wet weather intervened and delayed things for a couple of weeks.
Lance Kirk says this year’s crop looks like a good one, with yields up more than 40% from last year and better overall quality. Oregon produces 99% of the U.S. hazelnut harvest. The USDA predicts growers in the state will harvest about 41,000 tons of hazelnuts in 2011, the third best year in almost a decade.
These Nuts Win Awards
Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, an ale created by Rogue Brewmaster John Maier and Eugene, Oregon homebrewer Chris Studach, brought home the Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. GABF is the largest commercial beer festival in the world with 3930 beers vying for medals at this year’s competition.
We also had fun breaking the news to the Kirks that their hazelnuts helped Rogue win a gold medal at the 2011 Ministry of Rum International Tasting Competition in San Francisco. Rogue’s Hazelnut Spice Rum, made with roasted hazelnuts from the Kirk’s orchard, won the Gold Medal in the Flavored Rum category. Our Dark Rum also earned a gold. These awards usually go to distillers in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. But Rogue picked up two of only three Gold Medals given to American distilleries.
How to Harvest Oregon Hazelnuts
1: Before The Harvest
Leading up to harvest, mowers and scrapers move through the orchard and remove debris. This creates a clean floor where the nuts will land
Sweepers wind among the trees and line the nuts into long rows
Machines called harvesters collect the nuts, blow air through them to knock off husks and sticks, and then load them into crates
4: More Cleaning
Processing starts with men and machines removing any leftover husks, sticks and blanks (unfilled shells)
The nuts are washed and rinsed free of dirt and stones.
Finally, the hazelnuts are dried to about 9.5% moisture levels. In a typical year, this can take 12 to 24 hours.
Rogue Farms Hop Cheese,
Rogue Farms Freedom Hop Cheddar was a huge hit in October at The Wedge: Portland Celebrates Cheese. The farmer’s market style street festival at the Green Dragon & Buckman Botanical Brewery drew thousands of people eager to taste and buy cheese from twenty of the best artisan cheesemakers in the West.
Freedom Hops Cheddar is a collaboration between Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon and Rogue Ales & Spirits. The leaves of our GYO Freedom Hops are de-stemmed by hand, steeped in hot water, mixed into the curds and pressed into blocks. The result is a smooth cheddar with just a hint of hops aroma and flavor. Rogue Farms Freedom Hops Cheddar makes the perfect pairing with any of Rogue’s beers made with Freedom Hops.
Until the next Wedge, Rogue Farms Hops Cheddar is available exclusively at the Chatoe Rogue and at the Rogue Ales Public House and Distillery in the Pearl District of Portland –