August 7, 2021
A hop, skip and jump away from Mitaka Station is Sekimae in Musashino, a suburb of Tokyo. This is where we had the privilege of participating in hop-picking. Back in April, we took part in the planting of the hops, which we covered here.
Originally the hop-picking was scheduled for a few weeks earlier. As the hops had not grown as much as expected, the event was postponed once. What we saw when we arrived at the site was a number of hop plants with many hop cones and others with very few hop cones. The bines grew very high on a wire trellis. A side note, apparently hops are technically bines, not vines as they use the sharp hairs on their stems to grow. The Tokyo Hop Project organizers used a ladder to cut the bines of the more mature plants from the wire trellis, and they fell to the ground. The other bines were left for cultivation later.
Before the picking began, we received a quick lecture on hops. The part of the hop cones that give beer its characteristic flavor and bitterness is the yellow “stuff” in the the lupulin gland. The lupulin gland contains the hop acids and essential oils. We were encouraged to split one hop cone open and lick it. I found it to be a pleasant bitterness. However, the flavor lingered. I could not get the bitterness out of my mouth until several hours later.
As we mentioned in the hop-planting post, the type of hop that we planted was the Cascade variety. Cascade hops are known for their citrus, almost grapefruity aromas and flavors. This style of hop apparently originated in the 1960s and was the most common type of hop used in craft brews in the USA until 2018.
We picked hop cones off the hop bines using the pinching method. The stems were a little prickly, but it was not really necessary to use gloves. Although the hops did not appear to smell much on the bine, when they were placed in a bag they gave off an earthy and piney smell.
The hop-picking started at 11:00. Unfortunately, it started to pour at around 11:45, so we called it a day 15 minutes earlier than planned.
Thank you Mr. Kenmoku & the Tokyo Hop Project for a wonderful experience!
#hoppicking, #tokyohopsproject, #bine, #26Kbrewery, #ondcraftfood, #sekimaetokyo