Friday, August 19, 2011

BBC11 - Goschie Hop Farms

Firkin Around...Silverton, Oregon.

August 19th Goschie Farm - Silverton, OR

Celebrating 'rush hour'
The highlight of this evening was a trip to the hop fields of Goschie Farms located in Silverton, OR. It was about a one hour ride to the farm, just down the interstate, but Friday night rush hour was fast upon us. The trip took nearly two hours as the two motor coaches slogged along in stop-and-go traffic. Ah, but rush hour was never this nice; we had a secret weapon up our sleeve. The capable bus drivers acted as our designated drivers, so we sat back and enjoyed some fine craft beer that brewery reps had brought along. Cups were passed out, and the reps slowly worked their way, up and down the aisle pouring out libations to all. A two hour ride and all that beer could be a tricky thing for those with a weak constitution. However, as mentioned before, this was a long distance motor coach. It was equipped with a lav in the back.

Arriving in farm country, we spotted field after field of hop bines right off the side of the road. Standing tall, the bines seemed to go on forever toward the horizon. Thinking we were at our destination, it became apparent we were not, as this view went on for some time. It wasn't to our annoyance. Quite the contrary, we marveled at the vastness of the hop fields.When the two buses finally pulled into the drive, we all popped out and were instantly blown away by the pungent aroma of hops in the air. "Tettnang!", someone shouted. The whir of machinery in a large barn-sized shed lay fifty feet ahead. One by one, jaws dropped, eyes widened and speech hushed in reverent tones masked by the hum of mechanical conveyances. The machines were hoisting the hop bines in the air and then depositing them into threshers that would ultimately separate the hop cones from the leaves, stems and bine stalks. It was like some kind of Rube Goldberg contraption.

From the threshing room floor, we moved cautiously in and around the equipment. Conveyor belts of leaves on one side and a river of hop cones on the other, all flowing toward the back of the building. We climbed a stairway and watched as the hop cone river followed us along. Up to the drying room we went, where moisture was wicked out of the cones by a large dryer that passed gentle heat from below. Arriving at the top we saw a gigantic bed of cones drying and slowly moving toward the other end of the building.
The hops aromas were more concentrated by now, tickling our noses with great delight. Off to the other side of the drying room we saw a pile of hops that had completed the drying process. They were piled in a heap just below our view. Descending the next staircase took us to an enormous part of the building that had an equally ginormous pile - - - make that, a mountain of hops! My new blogging friend Danica mentioned that she would like to make a "snow angel" in the hop pile. How awesome would that be?!?
Shall we make a "hops angel"?

18' hop bines at Goschie
Once again voices hushed. It was either the sheer size of the room or the sheer reverence of the moment, but we slack jawed onlookers just marveled at the quantity of hops. After this building, we were treated to a walk in the hop fields to see the bines being harvested. We also got to check out a section that contained experimental cross pollination of several hop varieties. The rows were taller than expected (up to 18 feet in height), as we got to see them close up. And the rows...well they stretched on for hundreds of yards.

We bloggers were all amazed at the hard work of the farm staff. You can't help but  notice the  excellence and pride on this 100+ year old farm. A huge thank you to Gayle, Glenn and Gordon Goschie, who opened their farm to us. It was amazing to see the 250 acres of hops on their 1000 acre farm. It was especially interesting to be there during harvest time. To actually see the process of harvesting the bines, all the way through to packaging the hop cones into 200 pound bales was an experience not soon to be forgotten.

Great German food
Goschie's idyllic surroundings

Just as you'd think it couldn't get any better, the tour wrapped up with a picnic style outing on the farm grounds. Food was presented from The Glockenspiel Restaurant Pub. Delicious Bratwurst on rye rolls, mustard, curry ketchup, corn-on-the-cob, Tempeh, Choucroute and German potato salad were on the fare. Dessert consisted of brownies infused with hops, topped off with frosting that was sprinkled with more hops. Tasty beer food, indeed! Kegged and bottled beer abounded among the ancient tall trees that acted as our canopy of shade. The only thing missing were lute playing minstrels singing, "Hey nonny, nonny...", but I digress. I pulled up a folding chair and savored the food and grog, taking in all the idyllic surroundings.

I recall thinking to myself, "Do not forget this. Live in this moment."

Firkin Around

More photos here

Hops, fresh from the bine

Firkin Fields of Hops !

Goschie Farms
7365 Meridian Road NE
Silverton, OR 97381


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