The Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition was won by The Exchange Brewery of Niagara-on-the-Lake less than a month after opening.
Teaming up with Clear Valley Hops of Nottawa, the Exchange Brewery brewed an American amber ale that clearly wowed the judges.
Owner Robin Ridesic hired brewer Sam Maxbauer from Michigan to oversee beer production at this well fitted out brewery that has both a main floor and an upstairs bar
The brewery is located in a heritage building dating from the 1880s and was formerly the site of Niagara’s first telephone exchange, thus the name of the brewery and the use of numbers in the naming of its beers.
Honoured to be heading off soon to Niagara Falls, Ontario, to be a judge in The Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition.
If you look closely in the middle of the swirl of leafy green ferns, there is an invasive hop leaf from my ever present and growing hop plants!
Wow. A total of 21 pounds of fresh, green organic Cascade hops were harvested at the Hughey Hop Garden on the Danforth, a record crop! Gifts of hop garlands to Allen’s and the Brass Taps of Toronto accounted for a further two or three pounds of unpicked hop bines.
When I first started growing hops over 10 years ago, the concerns were for enough sun and sufficient timely water from the heavens.
There was also a concern about verticulum wilt, especially so for a climbing plant that couldn’t. But it never happened.
One year aphids appeared and chewed the leaves that shelter the hops from direct sunlight and watery downpours. The result was a very poor harvest. However, the next year nature supplied the solution-a white spider, which I had never seen before, but apparently aphids were its favourite food.
This year it was the itinerant hop pickers that caused me grief. Andrea went off to star in a play in Hamilton, Julian set off into the valley to direct a play, Judith had much needed foot surgery, and Will, a late volunteer replacement, headed off to Germany on a beer junket!
In spite of these setbacks, I picked away starting in late August, usually gathering one or two pounds a day, while Caroline and I did a couple of sessions with around four pounds of hops picked.
All in all, a fabulous year for growing hops. Now I have to get brewing.