Silly title, I know, but it sure was fun following those farm trucks full of hops as they delivered their bounty to processing plants. If harvesting hops is considered low tech, then hops processing plants are anything but Once a hop vine leaves the truck, it's all automated from there. No more quaint looking hop kilns. Following is an example of the typical hops receiving stations I observed.
This modern looking facility had 3 truck bays that were full constantly. Note the hose like apparatus that hangs from the ceiling in each bay. Here's a closer look.
It wasn't clear to me how, whether through suction or done manually, but the end of the rope vine on which the hops grow is captured by this overhead "conveyer line". Each vine is hung independently.
Once hung, each vine then is taken to the building next door that separates the hops from the vines. The door was closed and I was unable to observe exactly how this separation occurs. Another conveyor then transfers the hops to another building next door for drying and final preparation.
The conveyor we see in the background recovers the vines and loads them into another truck for disposal (compost?). Following is the modern version of a hop kiln.
This is definitely big business. Here's the finished product all packaged and ready for use at a brewery.
72 million pounds of hops will be harvested in the Yakima Valley this year. The U.K. represents the largest export market importing 10.7 million pounds with Mexico second at 8 million pounds. Over 52,000 acres of hops are now planted in the U.S. with 75% of production grown in the Yakima Valley. Thank you Ezra Meeker.
Trivia question - How many pounds of hops were produced in the Puyallup/White River valleys in 1888? According to Legacy Washington, nearly 1 million pounds! Pretty amazing. Considering what was required to harvest and process hops at the time, it's even more amazing.
Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, MOHAI 90.45.11, Anders Wilse photographer, circa 1900