On a Monday morning in mid August two men left NYC to meet two men in NJ to go back in time…….
Chelsea Brewery’s brewers, Chris and Mark, an elderly English man known as Skinner, and Ian Phillips crept up the winding roads through the woods on a quest to harvest as many hops as possible. Our destination for this trip would be the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY. The Farmer’s Museum, practices the farming methods and techniques from days of old such as using oxen to plow the fields, and good old fashioned manure to help vegetables grow. They also grow a bounty of hops. Upstate NY used to be the largest producing region for the hop industry in times before prohibition, but a disease called, Downy Mildew damaged the crops so badly many farms shut down. Prohibition was the final nail in the coffin for many small hops farms in NY, because if you’re not putting your hops into beer, there aren’t many other things you can use a huge volume of hops for.
At the farmer’s museum, the hops are grown up vertical saplings. Most of the plants were around 20 feet high, and the number of plants was somewhere around 80. It was a beautiful sight to see a massive green wall of hops.
After the poles were pulled from the ground we brought them to the shade to pick in comfort with the flies and the chickens.
About 14 plants were picked on this Monday afternoon yielding 15Lbs of hops, and with plans to return in early September, more hops harvested will be able to brew about 50 BBls of NYC’s finest ale.
After a long day, Mark and Chris march back to our car, and we our trek back to NYC and back to reality. You can expect to see CBC’s Catskill Fresh Hopped IPA in late September. It is sure to be an amazing beer, with lots of unique flavor, and lots of care and planning into it’s creation. This was an amazing experience that makes you appreciate the history of hop farmers and the simple joys of life.