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Edgartown, Massachusetts
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September 14, 2012     Vineyard Gazette
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September 14, 2012
 

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 VINEYARD GAZEXTE, MARTHNS VINEYARD, MASS. THREE Alan Northcott slices a vine from the bamboo trellis. Pictures by Ray Ewing Hopps Farm Hops Harvest Yields Brew Local in Every Way By KATIE RUPPEI, On Wednesday morning, the jungle of hop plants at the end of Hopps Farm Road in West Tisbury stood 20 feet high, well above Alan Northcott's head. Atop a ladder he sliced the string con- necting the vine away from the bamboo trellis that the hop plant had climbed along. Down below he handed the vine to the friends, neighbors and brewers who had gathered to help him harvest the hops, soon to be incorporated into an Offshore Ale one-of-a-kind brew: Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale. "If you put one in your mouth you can taste what the beer will taste like," said Mr. Northcott, plopping a hop flower in his mouth. The fluffy hop tastes grassy, bitter and piney, with the sourness of a grapefruit rind. "My mother always told me ifI didn't study hard, I'd end up a migrant laborer, and here 1 am," joked friend Jim Prin- gle while he plucked the hop flowers from the vine and chucked them into a basket. Mr. Pringle, along with a few of the other pickers present, contributed a small amount of hops to the batch, but the bulk comes from the 60 sky-high vines on Hopps Farm Road. The fact that these hops grow abun- dantly on the aptly named Hopps Farm Road is serendipitous. A few of the men present claim hops used to grow wild in the area; others believe Hopps is just a family name. "Well, this all started off as an ac- cident," said Mr. Northcott. "We didn't know where hops came from; we didn't know anything about them. Then Kenny got some rhizomes." Kenny Rusczyk, Mr. Northcott's hop partner-in-crime, had not arrived yet to the hop-harvesting hoedown. "Offshore's not open yet, is he down there?" joked Neil Atkins, head brewer at Offshore. "He has a key, I think," laughed friend Dave Maddox. It's no secret that Mr. Rusczyk loves beer. But all jokes aside, a beer at Offshore is where this hop-growing, beer-brew- ing business all began. During a con- versation with the brewmaster at the time, about eight years ago, Mr. Rusczyk got curious about hops, and decided to grow some of his own rhizomes. A rhizome is the stem of a plant that produces shoots and roots from its nodes. The six-inch stem is planted horizontally in the ground and, little did the men know, grows quite aggressively, like bamboo -- secretly and rapidly spreading its thick roots underground, with new sprouts popping up all over the place. Mr. Rusczyk started out with a few Open lOam-6pm Daily * 508 627-7907 Boneyard Logo items available at www.theboneyardsurfshop corn A group effort, about 15 people showed up to pick hops from the vine. Please Adopt Us The Animal Shelter of Martha's Vine- yard has a very special dog named Popi. He is a beautiful, big black greyhound who was given up for adoption because his owner became ill and could not care for him. Poor Popi has not adjusted to living in a kennel and has developed all kinds of medical and anxiety problems. He desperately needs an angel who would be willing to give this sweet, loving dog a home. The shelter also has also established a Popi Fund for some badly-needed dental work. If you would like to donate to this fund, please send a check to The Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard, EO. Box 1829, Edgartown MA 02539 (indicate on the check that it is for the Popi Fund). The shelter is grate- ful for any donations for this needy dog. Another very sweet little dog named Sara is available for adoption; she is a lhasa apso-beagle cross and just loves people. She gets along beautifully with other dogs, cats and people especially. Cats available for adoption are: Daisy, a big, gray short-haired kitty who has just been spayed and is ready to find her forever home: Mittens, a lovely orange and white nine-month-old kitten: Rex, a black and white tuxedo older cat who would make a great companion for an elder: and Sutton, a year-old tabby who has just been neutered. All other cats are up to date on their shots and have either been neutered or spayed. Shelter hours are Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The shelter is closed Sunday through Tuesday. The telephone number is 508-627-8662. Carry In Carry Out Remember to keep Island beaches clean. Leave only footprints behind. Gary Moutrowl surveys a hop flower. rhizomes he planted around his house, and gave a few to Mr. Northcott. Several summers later (it typically takes three years for the plants to flower), the hops had taken oft" "They were growing about two inches a day," he recalled. "1 could put a mark on a string and come back in three hours, and you could see the growth." And so, over another glass of beer at Offshore, Mr. Rusczyk mentioned his abundance of hops to the brewmaster. "Lo and behold, it turns out there was a hop shortage that year," said Mr. Rusczyk. And so his dry hops, then only about a paper bag's worth, were used in Offshore's pale ales. By the next year Mr. Northcott's hops p m m Dave Maddox pitches in with the harvest. had caught on, and, in fact, were taking over the garden. "They broke my garden fence," said Mr. Northcott, a little bitterly. "When [rhizomes} are in the ground you can't cut them. It'.,; like cutting a piece of rope with a shovel." lbgether Mr. Northcott, Mr. Rusczyk and a few others picked enough wet hops to merit them their own beer, and the first Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale was brewed three years ago at Offshore. Mr. Atkins said using wet hops gives the beer a grassy flavor and is not a typical brewing technique. Normally brewers dry the hops, which not only concentrates the flavor but allows them to be used over time. Once picked, wet l m m THE BONEYARD SURF AND SKATE SHOP Plantation ShrLtters at Tracker Home Decor Ill We are a Hunter Douglas Showcase Dealer with an in house Hunter Douglas Certified Shutter Installer We also offer a large selection of Wood Blinds, Shades, Woven Woods, Roman Shades and Custom Curtains , rTf00 TRACKgR H O M Eli ECOR EDGARTOWN 598.627.8725 89 PEASE'S POINT WAY SOUTH, EDGARTOWN (The Old Lamplighter Building} "! hops have to be used immediately to avoid molding, making the Offshore pale ale a once-a-year seasonal beer, as wet hops typically are harvested in August and September. By the end of Wednesday the men had plucked 60 one-gallon buckets of hop flowers, which would be refriger- ated overnight. On Thursday afternoon Mr. Atkins would start the brewing process. To make the Hopps bhrm Pale Ale, Mr. Atkins adds the hops into the mash-in with the grain. The he runs the mixture into the kettle and boils it for 60 minutes, adding more wet hops every 10 minutes or so. "The longer the hops boil, the more bitterness you get," he said. THE btV WATER SHUTTLE The year round ferry service from Oak Bluffs to Falmouth Inner Harbor in Just 25 minutesl Depart Depart Falmouth Oak Bluffs Mon - Sat 4:00 a.m. 4:30 a.m. Mon - Sat 6:00 a.m. 6;30 a.m. Mort - Fri 7:15 a.m. 7:45 a.m. Mon - Fri 8:30 a.m. 900 a.rn, Mort- Fri 10:30 a.m. 11.15 a.m. Mort - Fri 2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m. Mort - Fri 3:15 p.m. 3:45 p.m. Mort - Fri 4:30 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 24 hr Water Taxi Free van service to and from Wal-Mart and Falmouth Plaza. Fares: Adult/ChiUd: $9.00 one way 10 pass ticket: $75.00 Call 1-800-734-0088 www.patriotpartyboats.com Pete Gilmore helped collect more than 61 gallons' worth of hops. Last, he runs the boiling water through a big steel basket full of even more hops before the mixture is drasti- cally cooled. "Then it goes into the fermenter and I add the yeast," Mr. Atkins said. "Then I go home." In about two weeks the beer will be finished fermenting and ready for serv- ing. But come quick, because last year's batch only lasted for two weeks. One batch of beer makes 10 barrels, or 310 gallons of beer. That may seem like a lot of beer for 14 days, but it's the only beer at Offshore that uses Island- grown hops. 'A lot of times I won't drink the beer because I want the public to have it," said Mr. Rusczyk. "Last year people called from off-Island and asked for a keg. But they said, 'No, it's just for the locals." At the end of the hop-picking session this week about 15 people showed up, conversation revolving mostly around the topic of the day: beer. With a soft hop in his mouth, Mr. Rusczyk asked: "I wonder who thought of it, of putting hops in the beer..." He thinks, then decides that, like the rest of his hop story, "it was probably an accident." vineyard vines" .TWO WI" BETTER FIND US II AND OA 5 6 NarragansettAue. Oak Bluffs 5o8.687.984 y Y9 Winter Street Edgartown 508.627.4779 vineyardvines.com 62 SOUTH WATER This wonderful restored antique home lies on a comer lot two blocks from Main Street and up the hill from Collins beach. The four bedroom / four bath house has been meticulously renovated and features living room, dining room, den and family room/kitchen. All systems are new and great lengths were made to preserve the character of the 1820's home, while incorporating all of today's desired features. There is a private rear yard, a screened porch, parking space and formal gardens. A very special property in a terrific neighborhood and in excellent condition with water views. Exclusively Offered at $3,950,000.