Worthy Brewing

Month: August 2013

By in Indie Hops 0

Grow Baby Grow!

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 18:55:00

They’re going off. Our little green girls are starting to explode.  Such vigor! Such Force Vitale! Such yearning for the…. male pollen.

Ahem.  Well, that’s what usually happens. After a slow start – we just transplanted our 23 hop varieties in late May – our noble flowers are hungry.  They’re awash in hot sunlight. They’re thriving in plenty of water. They’re bursting with the yellow lupulin nectar. So what are they hungry for?

Pollen. Nature designed Humulus Lupulus to grow and grow fast at this stage of their reproductive cycle. They sense imminent fertilization and are pouring their energy into more and fluffier cones, longer sidearms, and the prospect of fertilized seeds.

Alas, our nubile nymphs will have to wait. It’s conceivable that a stream of wild type male hop pollen may waft in over the Cascades, or from a nearby garden, and do the deed.  I guess it’s possible.  But their loss is our gain.  Worthy plans on harvesting and brewing with these veritable beehives of hop honey, and the presence of seeds can spoil the fun.

Here’s a Fun Fact Detour: Did you know in many countries it’s illegal – verboten! – to grow male hop plants within a few miles of commercial hopyards? I don’t know if the hop cops will throw you in jail, but exposing those fertile flowers to the male mist is a crime of sorts. The reason? Brewers do NOT like seeds.  They give off nasty flavors.  Hop merchants, as well as brewers, will specify with growers that the seed content shall be less than a few percentage points of the total weight.  We can try to deter knuckleheads, but generally a portion of a yard will get “impregnated,” as we can’t stop Mother Nature from sewing the seeds of procreation.

Here at Worthy we are proud of our girls.  2013 has been designated as our “establishment year.” Hop farmers as a rule don’t string their plants in the first year. Instead their focus is on developing the root system of the fresh crop.  They’ll typically let the hops grown a few feet and then prune. We decided to string our hops because we were curious how they’d grow in East Bend in the special imported soil we’re using inside their raised beds.  Also, we wanted to check out the variation between the 20 plus cultivars.

Our conclusion: Amazing! The Chinooks are simply exploding. We measured cones 2.5 inches long and an inch wide. Big as a beehive!  The Crystals, Cascades, Meridian, Santiams and Centennials have also shown incredible robustness.  We can’t wait to brew with these organically grown beauties. We now have three systems we can test them with – the master 30 barrel brew system, the 5 bbl pilot, and our trusty home brew system.  Chad, Dustin and Jacob are champing at the bit to pluck and toss our Worthy hops into the kettle.

Is vigorous cone development, or lack thereof, a predictor of the size of the yield in the “Baby Year,” i.e., the first year of harvest? Not necessarily.  Our Goldings, Ultras, and Perle may not be sprouting as generously as the heat-loving Chinooks, but this is no reason to conclude our slow starters will underperform in their mature year (the 2nd harvest year).  That’s what’s so cool about hops and plants in general – they may belong to the same species, but there’s big differences in their size, color, cone shape, disease resistance and yield. Even the location of the plant in relation to the sun can influence the cone and side arm development.

Next time you’re at Worthy, please feel free to take a tour of our hopyards.  We’ve identified most of our hops with a placard that indicates the name of the cultivar, the year of its release, and the “inventors” (e.g. “Haunold/OSU” or “USDA/WSU” or “OSU/Indie Hops.”) In late September we’ll harvest our hops and by the time Oktoberfest rolls around we should have a few “home grown” brews for you to sample.

We’re very proud of our hop family and can’t wait to brew with them and share our bounty with you.


Break out your camera phone! How many times have you seen barley sharing the same soil with hops? At Worthy we are showcasing four varieties of barley, courtesy of our friends at OSU. Just add water, yeast and that old brewer magic!

We’re very pleased with the vigor of our three experimental hops, which were bred in 2010 by our friends at OSU and Indie Hops. Can’t wait to be the first to brew with a brand new, genetically distinct hop. Much adventure awaits.

Chinooks: Big as a Beehive! These dual purpose, heat loving hops are exploding! Come by for a rub and sniff.

Chinooks have historically struggled in the moist Willamette Valley, but they’re busting out here in East Bend, Oregon.

Cascades. A Worthy craft beer powerhouse. Perhaps the most popular hop variety among craft brewers.

The Crystals are looking very happy. The perfect aroma hop for our IPA and Pale.

The Santiams, another one of Dr. Haunold’s four Hallertauer analogues, also enjoying the hot days and cool nights.
By in Worthy Garden 0

Garden Fresh

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 18:55:00

Meet Worthy’s Garden Specialist, Lisa Kronwall

Everybody loves farm fresh produce.  At Worthy, we’ve gone a step further.  To supplement our locally grown produce supply, we’ve been harvesting veggies and herbs from our very own garden.

As the saying goes, if it were any fresher, you’d slap us!

Lisa Kronwall, Worthy’s Garden specialist, for the past few weeks has been happily harvesting swiss chard, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  Most of these beauties began their journey to your pizza or salad in Worth’s greenhouse as seeds.

Along with the veggies, Lisa has been plucking a number of aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, basil (3 varieties), tarragon, parsley, thyme, mint, oregano and chives.  You can enjoy their garden fresh flavor on many of our pizzas.

On deck to be harvested is a spicy array of hot chili peppers, including such varieties as Habanero. Thai, Peppercini, Serrano and the terrifying Scoville scale topping Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia). We planted these from seeds in Worthy’s greenhouse months ago.

“This has been a lot of fun for me,” says Lisa, who after getting her college degree in horticulture spent a few years maintaining botanical gardens in Chicago, Illinois. “I love the beauty and utility of plants and flowers. They’re lovely to look at and tasty to eat!”

She also enjoys the tranquilizing properties of flowers, vegetables and herbs. “They help you relax. My goal at Worthy is to create a colorful environment where people can come and relax and even learn a few things about the plants we use every day, whether in their food or beer.”

Before joining Worthy, Lisa had never grown hops before. “It’s been very exciting for me to get to work with the hop experts at Oregon State and Indie Hops. They’ve been a tremendous help. We have over 30 cultivars of hops in our hop garden now, including four (4) ‘mystery hops’ that were bred by OSU and Indie four years ago.”

“It’s cool to look out at the yard every morning and know that Worthy’s showcasing the brilliant work of hop giants like Dr. Al Haunold, as well as the new generation of hop experts at OSU like Dr. Shaun Townsend and Dr. John Henning.”

Growing hops, herbs, flowers and veggies in East Bend is not without it’s challenges. The natural “soil” is essentially a mixture of sand and solid basalt, courtesy of nearby Pilot Butte. Worthy imported truckloads of specially designed soil to fill the raised beds in which the hops, herbs and veggies are planted.

“The main challenge has been the climate,” said Lisa. “We have extreme temperature shifts out here. It’s seldom static. It can snow one day and be blazing hot the next.”

Pests can be a pest, but Lisa feels confident she can keep the aphids and mites under control. She’s planted a number of ground covering plants and flowers that attract lady bugs and other insects which prey on the “bad bugs.”

“What I don’t have,” she joked as she rubbed her lower back, “is a natural predator for the noxious weeds that tend to abound out here, other than humans like me.”

For as long as the sun will allow it, Worthy will be harvesting fresh herbs and veggies from our garden daily. You can see what’s been freshly plucked by reading our chalkboard behind the bar.





The cornerstone of beer: Barley and Hops. Just add water, yeast and that brewer voodoo.

Worthy has planted over 20 cultivars of publically owned hops, along with newcomer Meridian and 3 unique genotypes created by OSU and Indie Hops, none of whose flowers have found their way into a brew kettle or ferm tank…yet.