Hops

Photos of Anheuser-Busch's Elk Mountain Hop Farm

These photos accompany the article by Richard Vang, "Suds Grapples With The Giant",
which can be found here.


Elk Mountain Hop Farm
Hops in full bloom at Anheuser-Busch's
Elk Mountain Hop Farm in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho.

 

Hop Symposium participants
The group of intrepid beer writers, hosted by Augie Busch.
(Click the photo for a larger image.)

Selkirk, Purcell and Cabinet mountains surround the farm.
The farm is bounded by three ranges of mountains.

 

Elk Mountain is the largest aroma hop farm in the world.
The 1800 acres of vines seems to stretch forever.

 

The farm is operated by Busch Agricultural Resources, Inc.
The Old Man of the Mountain, August Busch III.

 

The farm is one of the only hop farms in the world owned by a brewer.
The group is treated to an informal press conference.

 

Hop vines can grow up to 40-feet in length.
The scale of the 20-foot tall poles can be seen here.

 

There are almost three hundred employees working during the harvest.
The manager of the Elk Mountain Hop Farm, Brad Stuger.

 

Vines are collected in trucks and brought to the cleaning shed.
Vines are harvested both by hand and mechanically.

Right: The vines are lifted off the truck and into the air.

There are approximately 889 hop plants per acre.

 

A hop vine can grow 1-foot per day during peak growing season.
The vines are moved toward the cleaning machine.

 

Harvesters work constantly to get the hops in before the first frost.
Vines that aren't hoisted are raked into the cleaning machine.

 

Long, vertical rotating brushes literally beat the cones off the vines.

 

Left: The vines travel into the "magic fingers" and
are caught on a conveyer belt below.

The optimum temperature for drying hops is 150 degrees F.
Below, gas furnaces provide heat for drying the cones.

The intense heat and moisture fogs up your glasses and camera lens.  The aroma is overwhelming.
The hops are dried in the very large kiln.

 

Compare this with the old ratchet press on the Historic tools page.
The hops are dropped down a chute and into a press.

 

There are approximately 200 pounds of hops per U.S. bale.
The hops are compressed into large bales for sewing.

 

Using power sewers, they can complete a bale in under one minute.
Migrant workers still sew the bales closed by hand.

 

There are several piles of hops as big as a small house in the baling area.
Terry Solomon of The Ale & Lager Examiner grabs an armful.

 

This man is in Hop Heaven!
Mike Urseth of Midwest Beer Notes gets a snootful.

 

Elk Mountain grows Saaz, Hallertau and Tettnang hops.
Inspecting one of the 1,600,200 hop vines on the farm.
(Photo provided by Anheuser-Busch.)
Symposium participants were given an Elk Mountain buck knife and turned loose to harvest their own hops.
The author and photographer, "Suds" Vang.
(Photo provided by Anheuser-Busch.)

 

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