We plan to open our brewery/brewpub in the spring of 2016. That leaves us this year to experiment and learn about the craft of brewing and to develop our own distinctive brands of beer. To that end, since last December, we have been trying out different types of ingredients and brewing techniques. An opportunity arose to go one step further. We are going to try growing some or our own hops.
Last fall, our friend and professional certified organic hop grower Nicholas challenged us to find a local or wild hop. We got in touch with Doris and Jim Villemaire from Sprucedale. Doris, a Sprucedale & District Horticultural Society member, had written an article in 2008 in the Almaguin News on wild hops she was growing. Late in October, I was fortunate enough to meet her and her husband Jim at their home.
The hops originated with Doris’ friend Irene Smith who explained that the hops had always been on her family property near Sprucedale since she was a young child. Irene also recalls her father brewing beer using the hops.
Yesterday we unearthed the pots where we planted the hops to overwinter and found tiny sprouts and leaves breaking the soil cover.
We don’t know what variety these hops are and we may never know. We have decided to call them Smith-Villemaire until we know differently.
This year we hope to have enough in late August or early September to brew a wet hopped IPA. When it is ready, that’s when we will discover the true flavour of the hop.
Next year, once the building is finished and the landscaping nearing completion, we will have hops to transplant to the beer garden area alongside the Seguin River.