Growing and Processing Hops
At the Old Mission Hop Exchange, we believe that the growing, harvesting and processing of hops can be a valuable asset to
Michigan’s economy and to individual farmers. We work with growers throughout the Old Mission Peninsula which offers perfect hop growing conditions, to grow the local industry and support commercial breweries. Michigan State University’s Cooperative Extension is a great source of information about growing hops in Michigan.
The oast is a chamber specially designed to remove moisture from the cone in a controlled fashion. Hops drying is as much of an art as a science. Temperature, humidity, hop variety, etc. all influence how quickly the cones will achieve the proper moisture content. If dried too quickly the exterior will be over dry and the interior too wet. Overdrying leads to crumbling cones and loss of resins. But once the proper moisture is reached, the hops are ready for pelletizing.
The Old Mission Hop Exchange is the only full scale hop processing facility in Michigan. Our equipment, imported from Europe, creates pelletized hops. The cone is crushed, ground, and forced through a die under high pressure to make a uniform, dense pellet. Pellets have better long term storage characteristics, are more easily utilized by the brewer, and require much less storage room. After cooling, the pellets are packaged in vacuum sealed bags to preserve freshness.
Picking refers to the mechanical removal of cones and leaves from the bine. Bines are cut from the field and brought to the picker for processing. The bine is drawn through a mechanical comb and then into a secondary picker for further processing. From here the loose cones and leaf debris proceeds through a series of devices designed to remove unwanted material from the cones. Once picked and sorted, the hops proceed to the dryer, or Oast.
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