Hop Harvest – Hand Picked Pale Ale

Hop Acre Farms

Hop harvest season is in full swing! It’s a special time of year where hops, one of our favorite ingredients, are harvested for brewing. At Odell Brewing Co., we get hops from a variety of places. Some of these are stored away for future use while others come right off the bine for brewing. What kind of hops do we use? Where do we get our hops? These are all questions we asked our hop specialist, Scott Dorsch, and here’s what he has to say:

Q: How long do hops take to grow?

Scott: This totally depends on where and when they are planted. In commercial production, female hop rhizomes are planted in late spring or early summer. The amount of 1st year growth is dependent on the quantity of heat units (growing degree units) and light intensity the plant receives. In some areas, it is possible for the female plant to transition from vegetative growth to reproductive growth and produce flowers during the 1st year. Those flowers eventually become the hop cones that we utilize in the brewing process.

As the hop plant is a perennial plant, 2nd year growth begins to emerge from that original rhizome (now considered a crown) after the Vernal (spring) Equinox. The longer light periods and warmer temperatures trigger the dormant plant into vegetative growth much like an alarm clock. As long as the plant has water and nutrition, it will continue to grow until a hard freeze in the autumn. In commercial production, most of the plant material is harvested before a freeze, with the crown staying in a non-dormant stage until that freeze.

In other words… hops grow from the Vernal Equinox till hop harvest which is usually mid-August to late September depending on the type of hop.

Q: Where do hops grow?

Scott: Hops are a very adaptive plant and will grow almost anywhere that temperatures remain above freezing for 100 to 135 days. For commercial production, areas between the latitudes of 35 and 55 degrees contain the optimum day length and sunlight conditions for maximum flower and cone production.

In 2014, the USA produced 34% of the worlds hop production, second to Germany at 41%. Most commercial hops in the USA are produced in the Pacific Northwest – Washington leading with 78% of the USA production followed by 11% in Oregon and 9% in Idaho. The Colorado production is very small, accounting for only 0.2% of the USA acreage in 2014.

Hop Farm Yakima

Q: How many hop varieties are there?

Scott: This is a difficult question as it changes every year! In 2014 in Washington, 31 different cultivars accounted for 77% of the acres planted. Craft brewing has really changed the make-up of types that are have been planted recently. When you consider hops across the globe, there are probably 100 to 125 genetically different hop types in commercial production.

Q: What time of year do you harvest hops?

Scott: Mid-August to late September in the Northern Hemisphere
Mid-February to early April in the Southern Hemisphere

Recently, we handpicked hops at a local hop farm, Fort Collins Hop Acres, to add to a juicy pale ale as part of our bridge series beers. Here is what Scott has to say about this upcoming brew:

Q: What kind of hops were used in Hand Picked Pale Ale?

Scott: For Hand Picked Pale Ale, we used a variety of hops in the kettle. We used all Colorado Chinook from Fort Collins Hop Acres in the hopback.
The Chinook plants that were harvested at Fort Collins Hop Acres were planted in 2012 from rhizomes originating from Summit Plant Labs in Fort Collins. Summit Plant Labs also supplies the hop plants in our backyard at the brewery. This is the 3rd harvest season Odell Brewing Co. has purchased these hops from Fort Collins Hop Acres. This year, we took a large group of co-workers out to observe the harvest process with the Fort Collins Hop Acres Wolfpicker. (Wolfpicker is the name of the machine that picks the hops from the bines.) Chinook hop was developed by the USDA from a cross made in 1974. Its ancestry includes English types Petham Golding and Brewer’s Gold.

Wolfpicker Hop

Q: What kind of flavors can we expect in Hand Picked?

Scott: Hand Picked will have notes of peach rings, lemon and stone fruit with a bit of garlic and floral tones.

Handpicked Pale Ale will be available in our tap room starting Friday, October 2. In late August, the Odell Brewing team ventured about 20 miles north of the brewery to help harvest hops from Fort Collins Hop Acres. Within 24 hours, 600 pounds of fresh local Chinook cones were bathed in hot wort as it made its way from the kettle through the hopback. It’s a labor of love and treat for the palate!


Hopback Hops

The Hops Project

DSC_0015When Odell Brewing Company tap room manager Kailey Schumacher asked brewer and agronomist Scott Dorsch to plant some hops around the brewery, he complied. “I would pretty much walk on hot coals if she asked me.”

Summit Plant Laboratories, Inc. of Fort Collins donated the plantlets to OBC, and Dorsch planted them in June. Currently, there are no hop cones on the plants, but Dorsch hopes to see growth soon. “At full maturity they are an incredible and beautiful plant,” he said. “They should fit in nicely with the incredible and beautiful OBC backyard.”

Humulus Lupulus (hops) are the flowering cones of a perennial vining plant and a cousin of cannabis (sorry, you can’t smoke it) that typically thrives in climates similar to the ones that grapes do, according to the Beer Advocate website. “Hops are the age-old seasoning of the beer; the liquid gargoyles who ward off spoilage from wild bacteria and bringers of balance to sweet malts. They also lend a hand in head retention, help to clear beer (acting as a natural filter) and please the palate by imparting their unique characters and flavors.”

In short, hops make beer taste bitter – in a good way.

Though the hops Dorsch planted will add to the OBC landscape, it is unlikely that such a small amount will be of use to the brewery. “I am not sure these plants (in their current locations) will ever produce enough hop cones for OBC brewing use, even with our pilot system,” Dorsch said. “I see their main value as being aesthetic and educational.”

Still, Dorsch has other plans for harvest time. “One possibility would be to hand harvest some cones at the end of their growing season and use those for potpourri in the office areas,” he said, adding, “or perhaps on someone’s home-brew system.”

We’re looking forward to sharing the wealth. In the meantime, tap room visitors can view the budding hops on the trellis at the front of the brewery and in the backyard.

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Guest Brewer: Gayle Goschie of Goschie Farms

Our five-barrel pilot system has become more than a staple at Odell Brewing Company; it has become a way for us to extend a warm welcome to friends near and far. In turn, the brews they create are shared in our tap room and at other select events; sometimes, the brew becomes more popular than we could ever imagine (does 5 Barrel Pale Ale ring a bell?).

Earlier this summer, we welcomed Gayle Goschie of Goschie Farms and her nephew Dallas to brew an ale for their anniversary celebration in August. And after 110 years of growing hops in the Willamette Valley, they thought it only natural to brew with their own.

Aptly called 110% Goschie Farms Ale, the Goschie Cascade bitter additions and whole leaf Goschie Fuggle in the whirlpool and hopback will create an interesting and session-able brew for this special event.

Gayle and Dallas brewed with Odell Brewing’s Scott Dorsch, who helped them through each step of the process. “[They] had a wonderful experience brewing their Farms Ale with us on the pilot system,” he said. “They were also excited to find out that 100 percent of the whole leaf hops currently used in 5 Barrel originate from Goschie Farms!”

Goschie Farms grows more than 500 acres of organic hops (the majority of which are sold to Deschutes Brewery), as well as 600+ acres of other crops like wheat and wine grapes. The farm, which is located in Oregon, is a front-runner in the effort to “improve the health of Oregon hops and expand the amount of information available to other growers and beer producers,” according to its website.

110% Goschie Farms Ale will be available in the tap room this August and at the farm’s 110-year celebration Aug. 4.

Want to know more about our guest brewers? Send us an e-mail!

Wolf Pickin’ Hops

Wolf Picker Bottle 2015It’s no secret we love hops around here. We often work closely with hop farmers in the Pacific NW and Colorado, anxiously awaiting new experimental hop varieties that we can bring home to play with. This weekend we’ll release our latest hop crazy Roots Release creation, Wolf Picker.

Named in honor of the hop growing community and the harvesting equipment many use, Wolf Picker is an American Style Pale Ale brewed with two experimental hop varieties. The malt profile produces a light golden straw hue and a clean crisp finish that allows the hopback and dry hopping additions to shine. Wolf Picker features ADHA (American Dwarf Hop Association) #881 and HBC (Hop Breeding Company) #366, which give it an intensely complex hop character and aroma filled with notes of lemon, fresh basil and tropical fruit.

This spring, we will once again partner with several hop growers to showcase several new yet-to-be-named varieties for the annual Craft Brewers Conference. We’ll have up to nine different experimental hop beers on tap throughout the conference week!

Want to see a Wolf Picker in action? Check out this video from our friends at Colorado State University, and swing by the Tap Room on January 11th & 12th as we celebrate the tapping this latest Roots Release brew.

Hop to Sip – The Story of a Beer from Hunter Thompson on Vimeo.

Wolf Picker will be available on draft and in the Winter-Spring Montage Variety Pack beginning January 13th!

Peachy Keen!

The Western Slope of Colorado is the source of many a bountiful harvest. The unique geography and soil provide for the perfect fruit growing seasons. If you’re from Colorado you know the year isn’t complete until you have a Palisade Peach. Palisade is a tiny town in the heart of the Western Slope’s agricultural scene. They love peaches. We love hops. When they come together it’s a beautiful thing. Tree Shaker is our attempt to bring a little of that Colorado love to our loyal fans. We dropped some Rakau hops that were chosen from New Zealand into the whirlpool, which naturally lend a peach character to the beer. With Amarillo and Crystal hops bringing a touch of citrus to the nose, this beer introduces a bit of peach jam from a 6,000 pound peach addition that is quickly cleared by an assertive bitterness that one would expect from an Imperial IPA. The perfect companion for a warm Colorado spring day.

Odell Brewing will celebrate the release of Tree Shaker this Saturday, April 6th with a party in the Tap Room. Guests can try the brew and  enjoy live music by Hectic Hobo as well as tasty eats from Common Link.

– A Quality Guy

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Woodcut No. 6 has the hops!

This week we will release our sixth Woodcut brew, an oak-aged American ale featuring Mosaic hops. It’s the first dry hopped offering we’ve ever done in the series, and is the result of over a year of collaboration between the Mosaic hop farmers and our team.

It all started back in 2010. We shared some Woodcut 4 with Jason Perrault (a 4th generation Yakima Valley hop farmer), and he loved it. He and Brad Carpenter (his family began growing hops in the valley in 1868) then shared some experimental hops with us, and we loved them!

We began experimenting with the hops, known only as “HBC 369” at the time. They offered a very unique flavor and aroma…much more fruity, sweet, and tropical as compared to the traditional piney, spicy, earthy aromatic hops used in most IPA’s.  We decided to invite Jason and Brad out to the brewery to brew Woodcut No. 6 with us. At that point, they had decided on “Mosaic” as the name of this remarkable new hop.

Woodcut No. 6 Brew Day

Our brewers included both Mosaic and another yet-to-be-named experimental variety in the kettle and Hopback, but the beer was dry hopped with 100% Mosaic hops. As with all of our Woodcut offerings, we aged the beer in virgin American oak barrels for several months.

The final blend combines the intricate and delicate tropical fruit sweetness of the Mosaic hop with the traditional vanilla and toasted oak flavors from the barrels.


We’ll celebrate the release of Woodcut No. 6 this Saturday in the Tap Room and will be pouring it at The Great American Beer Festival, October 11th – 13th.



Brent Cordle is the Barrel Aging/Pilot System Manager for Odell Brewing

Mountain Standard – a Contradiction in a Glass

Fall is a time of great balance. It’s cool enough to ride to work in pants, but not so cold you need a down jacket. The afternoons are warm and inviting, but not so hot you seek refuge indoors. It’s great time to be out and about in Colorado. It’s that balance of the season that we consistently strive to bring into our brewhouse. Never is that more apparent than in Mountain Standard, our Double Black IPA. With such an aggressive style by nature, it is a challenge to maintain a level of harmony within the beer. Colorado grown whole flower hops lend a unique spicy roundness to the aroma. The beer radiates a deep copper reminiscent of first light, with cherry and chocolate in the nose. A creamy mouthfeel yields to an assertive bitterness that folds back into roasted chocolate. Like fall it’s only around for a short time, so get out there and enjoy it!

– A Quality Guy