When 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.