Hops are undergoing a re-emergence in commercial agriculture in the province of Ontario and across the continent. Hops are the female flower cone of the plant Humulus lupulus. These cones are used primarily in the brewing process to impart bitterness, aromas and flavours in addition to acting as a natural preservative. Other uses of hops include medicinal products, ornamental purposes, herbal teas and soaps to name a few. The first hops were cultivated in the Hallertau region of Germany and over the years spread throughout Europe and most parts of the world. Today the largest regions of production are in Germany and the North Western parts of the United States (Washington & Oregon). Although North American production has typically been grown in Washington & Oregon states, this crop is gaining prevalence in other parts of the continent. New hops yards are regularly being planted in the North Eastern U.S. states as well as B.C., Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces.
Commercial hops are primarily grown on tall trellis systems reaching heights of 12-20ft. depending on the trellis design. The female flower of the plant is what’s used for the process of making beer. There are many different varieties (or cultivars) each with their own unique brewing and growing characteristics. As we expand our acreage we will endeavor to find varietals that will grow best in our Southern Ontario climate. Much like the grape growing regions of the world and wine produced in those regions, hops take on the characteristics of their surroundings and may have unique flavours depending on the regions in which they’re grown.
We at The Tavistock Hop Co. seek to provide a quality local source of hops to our brewing partners. Follow us on twitter @tavistockhopco on Facebook The Tavistock Hop Company page or here on our website to see what’s “growing on” in our hop yard.
The Tavistock Hop Company began with an idea to grow something unique, something few others were doing and most importantly something we could be passionate about. That “something” we’re referring to is the resurgence of hops on Ontario farms. Hops are a perennial plant from which the flowers provide beer with both bitterness and flavour depending on the variety and use in brewing.
What started as a simple crop suggestion from a friend, home brewer and craft beer enthusiast, quickly became an obsession for us. The more we researched the viability of growing hops, the more set we were on planting our own hop yard to service the craft beer industry.
A growing number of beer enthusiasts across the continent are seeking new and exciting flavours and the craft brewers are anxious to provide their patrons with the beverages they seek. Our goal is to provide quality locally grown hops to the craft brewing industry. Our Hop Yards are located on our family farm, Brenwyn Farms. Together with my wife Julie our sons Nash and Reid, we farm alongside with our partners in hops, Jeremy and Donna Bartlett and their 3 boys Keaton, Rowan and Camden.
As we venture into our 6th year as hop farmers we’re excited and looking forward to the upcoming growing season and “Harvesting Enjoyment!”