Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Carolinian Hop Yard - Fresh Green Goodness

Twitter is an amazing thing. I reached out to @thehopfarmer on Twitter just because of her name. It turns out Melanie Doerksen is based in London, Ontario (a happy coincidence) and this leads me to offer her a speaking slot at Forest City Beer Fest.

Melanie and her partner Tim Wilson come to the Fest and dutifully take to the stage to share their vision for the Carolinian Hop Yard. Attendees are invited to come visit at harvest time. I took them up on it.

I made a trip down to get some fresh hops for homebrewing purposes and boy am I glad I did! Here is a rundown of my day at the Hop Farm:

First, I got lost. This always seems to happen. Usually something good comes out of it but not today. I just saw a lot of fields and took a detour down a dirt road. The city boy in a Prius got some funny looks when asking for directions.

I missed the harvest work and the BBQ in the field that I had intended, but I made it in time to catch Tim vacuum sealing the last of the crop. The overall yield was not massive but promises to be far larger next year. It takes a few years for hops to mature and reach heir full height and potential.

There are currently 10 rows of hops growing mostly Cascade & Willamette. There is plenty of space for more rows on both sides. The property is long and skinny divided by a small stand of trees. On one side you have the hop fields and the other is home to the foundation for a brewhouse, eatery and more open land.

In the coming years I expect this to become more of a destination for brewers, beer nuts, foodies and fun-seekers. The goal is to have a fully operational farmhouse brewery using the farm's own crop. Tim and Melanie are green through and through. The field is not yet certified as organic, but it is clear that there are no chemicals and that natural techniques are being used to maintain the field. The same goes for the brewhouse. A number of construction features will cut down on electricity use and waste.

The farm is located near Delhi & Tillsonburg in Charlotteville, traditional Ontario tobacco country. Many farms have gotten out of the business over the last 10 years and the old tobacco equipment is being re-used. Special trailers with ladders can be dragged between the rows of hops allowing a worker to cut down and hang and entire bine (not a typo -- hops are technically bines) very quickly. These are already on the property and will be put into use once the bines grow high enough to make their use more practical.

Even the future brewhouse involves a bit of recycling. Old barn materials are on the site and are ready to be re-purposed as construction continues. It has already advanced considerably since my visit, as you can see on their Facebook Page.

Brewers, homebrewers and beer lovers should keep an eye on the Carolinian Hop Yard/Charlotteville Brewing co. as it continues to piece itself together and reach its potential. Congrats to Melanie and Tim on all your hard work.


  1. Nice photos. I hope you have a lot of fun being a part of nature. If you have something more to share, follow the link and send me a message, I will wait for it.

  2. The harvest is an important process that requires maximum attention and effort. It is great that you were able to perform such a hard work.

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  4. Getting lost is very easy, so it's always worthwhile to have a map or programs to help you find the way back without help.

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