GENESEO, Ill. — With the fall harvest season underway, one man is trying his hand at harvesting for the first time.
Three years ago, Great Revivalist Brew Lab planted centennial and chinook hops outside its brewery in Geneseo. The vines can't be harvested until their third year.
"They take a lot of time to ensure that you're getting the vines to grow correctly," brewer Scott Lehnert said. "Mother Nature really takes over and you look at it, it's like any vine... They just grow in the sun that we get here in the Midwest. I've had issues with them burning up before. We got really lucky. I think we've got a great harvest."
The different types of hops will bring different tastes to the beer they make.
"Different, what they would say, alpha acids that are going to create different flavors and a different amount of bitterness in the beer," Lehnert said.
It's not the typical harvest scene with the giant combines. Instead, the brewers climb up on a ladder or are raised with a forklift to cut them down. Then, each hop flower has to be picked off by hand.
Lehnert will be brewing a local harvest IPA using the hops and honey from local producer, Angel Fairy Honey Company.
He needed to pick 12 pounds for the recipe since the hops were wetter and fresher. Twelve pounds is a lot when the hops don't weigh very much. But to do it all local makes the hard work worth it, he said.
"It's neat when you can do everything on a local basis," he said. "If I get something from the western side of the United States, it can take seven days, it can take 10 days, it can take two weeks. You never know when your product is gonna come. But when you produce it yourself, I think you have a little bit more pride in it."
The vines will grow back and be ready for harvest again next year. Lehnert said it's their goal to use the hops more and more and even try to pelletize them so they last longer.
Great Revivalist Brew Lab will be brewing the new IPA next week and hopes to have it ready for sale in a month.
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