We have our own processing pole barn, adjacent to our hopyard. We harvest by cutting hop bines down in the field onto our harvest trailer and taking them directly to our Wolf processor. Our ability to control this time-sensitive phase of the process allows us to optimize the timing of the hops harvest, keyed only to the lab-tested maturity and quality of the product.
The integrated nature of our setup allows us to not only harvest and process our hops as we take them from the field, but also kiln-dry and bale them within a single day.
Since our 2014 harvest, we have had a Wolf 140 hop processor to strip our cones from the bines. Beautiful, isn’t it? The machine was shipped over from Germany, where it spent the first forty years of its life, and was reassembled and upgraded with all new motors and variable frequency drives (VFD’s) to sequence their three-phase power. During harvest, the VFD’s allow us to adjust the machine to accommodate various weather conditions and optimize yield and quality.
Oast & Baler
Since our 2015 harvest, we have also had our own oast, built into our processing barn and directly integrated with our Wolf by conveyor. Our oast is a traditional bin/batch design, with the 12’x12’ bin elevated over a forced-air plenum room. The oast is powered by a Brock forced-air heating unit with 850,000 BTU’s and 6,700 CFM, thermostatically controlled to 130oF.
As the hops are conveyed directly into the bin from the Wolf over the course of the harvest day, unheated air is directed through the bin by the Brock system to keep the hops fresh. Once the bin is full at the end of the day, the kiln-drying begins and usually requires only 6-8 hours to bring the residual moisture content of the hops to the desired range of 9-9.5%.
In order to ensure accuracy in this critical value, we use a Reid Moist-Vu instrument to directly measure the moisture content of the batch. This instrument uses microwave diffusion technology to determine moisture content within 0.10%. We sample repeatedly during the oasting process to monitor the moisture level.