I spent the day with reporter Laura Peters at Blue Mountain Brewery, where a collection of hops farmers were helping to harvest the hop yard on the brewery property. I really love agriculture assignments, but I love them even more when the final product involves beer. I learned a lot about growing hops with the guys from the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative, a group of hops farmers in Virginia that work together to teach and educate about hops farming.
Apparently, hops need very little space to grow. Clusters of hop plants are called crowns, which grow upward toward the sun, and farmers build rope contraptions to help the plant grow up. And the eventual rope of hops, which is cut down upon harvest, is called a bine, not a vine.
Many hop farms — or hop yards, as some call them — are less than an acre. Blue Mountain has a couple different hop yards on their property, where they grow Cascade hops, and all of them are about a third of an acre.