Thursday, 28 April 2011

Hops 2011

Hops, what are they? Hops are the bittering herb used in beer that imparts a bitter flavor to the beer. The history of hops is quite ancient, dating back to Babylon and Rome. It was the Romans who brought the hop to Britain as a vegetable. The earliest mention of hops in Europe is in the Hallertau district in 736 AD. However, it would be hundreds of years before Europe came to except the hop in beer.

What did they do before they had hops to add to beer? They would impart the beer with many different herbs, which were all being used for what the hop would replace, to add bittering flavor to the brew, balancing out the high alcohol and sweetness of the ales they brewed. They used herbs like coriander, yarrow, St. John's wort, rosemary and wormwood to add flavor to the beer.

However, due to the lower alcohol (lower than wines) the beer still spoiled quickly. Meaning, you brewed your own beer, and it was drunk very quickly. No time to ship it around the country, or start a large brewery, beer just wouldn't keep that long.

It was Germany who took to using the hops in the first place, and soon after the Dutch started importing the beer made with hops, and hops themselves to grow.

Why could they ship the beer from Germany? Because the hops are what make a beer keep. This was a new revolution to the world of brewing. You could get twice as much beer out of the same amount of malt, because you could make lower alcohol, impart hops, and it would keep even longer than traditional ales. This was when the herb growers who supplied the 'gruit' for the beer started getting upset. Because the introduction of hops would mean they would be out of business. No longer would people buy those herbs, that would not keep an ale, but would buy hops which will keep the beer for long periods of time. So, it was banned and put down in many countries because this.

Once Holland was won over to hops, England went next. They soon developed a taste for the hopped beer. In the 1400s they imported the hopped brew, and in 1428 they were growing hops. However, the controversy kept up througout the ages, and even as late as 1651 hopped beer was described in John Taylor's Ale Ale-vated into the Ale-titude as "A Dutch boorish liquor...a saucy intruder."

The advantages of the hopped beverage was so much better than unhopped that it triumped over the the traditional ales, brewed without hops.

However, the change to hops and hop growing did not come without cost. The hop was assailed by many pests and diseases, and you had to learn with it's whimsical nature. Some years the harvest would be good, and others bad. The cost would sometimes be 10 times higher in a bad year than the year before. Meaning you either made a fortune in a bad year, or a little in a good year. Neighbors often hoped for the others field to fail in order for the price to rise and make greater profit.

The hops move Westward, the Americas.

In 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Co. ordered seeds from England. In 1640s it was noted that hops grew "fair and large" in the colonies. Although Massachusetts in 1791 produced the first harvest, it was New York state that would take the country's leading and first producer. They were first planted in 1808. First harvest sold for 12 cents a pound. A series of English crop failures increase the demand that in 1822 trade routes were designated.

Gradually it moved to the West Coast, where California and Oregon gained production. In the early 1900s New York was still the leading producer. And in 1914 when the prohibition hit the production went down, and continued to decline, even after the prohibition in 1933.

The most recent development in hop history (1990) is the increasing availability of hops to to the homebrewer.

So there you have it. The history of hops. Did you know? Hops themselves are not bitter, it is only when added to the boiling wort (beer before fermenting) that it brings out the oils that impart the bitterness. Hops are added to beer to add aroma and flavor, along with the bitterness which helps keep a beer so long.

So, why talk about hops? Well, for one thing, I brew, so I use them. For another, I grow them! I started growing hops last year, and I blogged about it. My hop grew 15-20 feet last year, pretty impressive, and I got a small harvest. This year, with added SEA-CROP and compost tea my hop is doing even better! It is 6ft long already! It is growing more than 4 inches a day! I am looking forward to a vine that will be more than 40ft long! I hope to take some pictures of it in a week or two, but didn't have my camera with me today.

English Vintner

Here is the main source for where I took my history for hops. I looked at a few other websites as well.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

English Cafè, part 2

So, part two. I have decided on a roaster, Behmor 1600. After a year of that, and my customer base is big enough, I plan on upgrading to a gas fired 1 or 2lb roaster. The cost would be $2500 for 1lb roaster, or $3500 for a 2lb roaster.

I gave a sample of coffee to the Stone Table restaurant, haven't heard back on the results yet, whether or not they want to buy from me. I want to give some samples to my church, and see if they would consider buying from me. I have two other customers who want to buy from me on a regular basis, other than that, I don't have any more confirmed customers.

I got in sample bags for coffee last week, haven't decided on a bag yet. I will have reclosable valve bags for whole beans, and sealed bags for ground coffee.

Cost for the roaster is $300, grinder is $90, start up beans $100+, bags is $25, and some other expenses mixed in.

My grandparents have put aside money for each of their grand children in the bank, for college. I am not sure about college, and my grandma said that if I wanted to I could use some of that money to start up, instead of a loan. I am still thinking on the idea, but I like it.

I talked with my uncle who roasts coffee, and he said I need to look into this as a business that will grow to the extent that I cannot handle alone. I should be looking at this as growing quite large. That would be one reason to buy the larger roaster right now. However, until I get my customer base down I don't want to spend several thousand dollars on a machine that will take a few years to pay off.

If I sell an average of 5lbs a week, I profit in a year $1300, that means I make in a year roughly $2700. Not to bad. In one year I bring in enough money to buy the larger roaster. In two years if my customer base keeps growing and I am selling 10lbs a week, I am profiting $2600, bringing in $5200. This looks like a fun business to be in! It is fun looking at costs, and seeing how much I can make at this price, in a year. Quite fun to plan.

I will probably be receiving a check for $650 sometime in May, if I decide to go ahead with this. It will then be the end of June before I get things cracking.

I have my awesome cousin who is married drawing up some ideas for a logo. I'm looking forward to what she comes up with (she is an amazing artist!)!

I think I need to set up a website, so people have a place to order it, at least a place to look at prices and beans. I hope to get my dad help me with that. I know someone in my church who is a photographer, I'm considering asking her to take some pictures for the website of beans, mugs, etc. So many things to consider when starting a business! This is so much fun.

If you are interested in sampling my coffee, email me and I'll get you a sample (local only please, I can't afford to ship samples).

English Vintner

Monday, 18 April 2011

English Cafè

I am considering starting a coffee roasting business. I would prefer local people, who could stop by and order, or order ahead of time and stop by and pick up.

I would be offering a selection of 4 different coffees, sold by 13oz net weight. Organic, Decaf, and two Regular caffeinated coffees.

Cost would be $12.00 per package, if would like to buy larger or smaller quantities, let me know and I will give you the price. I sell whole beans, but will grind it if you don't have a grinder.

Ground coffee stays fresh for 2 hours before coffee snobs consider it starting to loose flavor. So, you really should be grinding the beans yourself minutes before brewing. Roasted coffee, should be used up in less than 2 weeks, preferably within 24-5 days of roasting.

I would like to host a coffee party for those interested in trying fresh roasted coffee, and want to know more about how roasting is done. I think the date May 19 might work. I'm gonna see who is interested in it. I would serve something to go with several different blends of coffee, have my roaster set up, roast some batches for people to see, and send them home with samples of beans to try.

Start up cost will be $650, I'm hoping to do a micro loan with my grandparents. I would like to have a minimum of 10 customers who are on a regular basis, along with others who like to get a pound once in a while, and others who buy from me as gifts to friends. I am hoping to have at least one restaurant who would be buying at least a 1lb a week, and maybe my church, who would use I'm guessing 2-3lbs a week. I am thinking if my customer base keeps growing, and I continue, I will have to upgrade my roaster to an actual commercial one.

Any ideas for names for my company? Right now I'm thinking of English Cafè for the name.

English Vintner

Thursday, 14 April 2011


Who doesn't like asparagus? It is a wonderful vegetable and high in nutrition. It comes in 'season' only from the beginning of spring up until the beginning of summer. Usually the window is 6-8 weeks long for mature asparagus.

You can buy 2-3 year old crowns. Plant the crowns in Spring when the soil is warm, let it grow. The following year cut asparagus for 2-3 weeks. Some people don't do this, but a study showed that this increased next years asparagus season. So, the year after you plant the crowns cut for a couple weeks, then let the plants grow the rest for themselves. The following year, two years after you planted them you can cut for 4-6 weeks. The following year and every year after for 10-15 years cut for 6-8 weeks, usually until the first week of June.

This is my second year, I planted asparagus last year this time. It grew well. I was not going to cut any this year, due to some shoots coming up several weeks ahead of others, but after doing some more reading on it, decided to cut some. So, this morning I got 11 shoots. I will be cutting for the next week or so, to improve next years yield.

I am thinking the reason cutting the second year can improve the third year is that you are forcing the plant to put out more shoots, expanding the root system, my idea anyway.

Here are pictures of my asparagus that I cut this morning. Once picked put into ice water to remove any heat. Then place in plastic bag and refrigerate, should keep for 2 weeks, enough for you to continue cutting until you have enough for a meal.

English Vintner

Friday, 1 April 2011


The problem with GMO seed is that it cannot exist along side organic seed. Monsanto likes to trick people into believing it can be so, but don't be fooled (this is no April Fools).

GMO seed is pollinating organic varieties thus eventually making everything GMO, which makes Monsanto have a monopoly! Is something wrong here? Hello! Everybody knows that a monopoly makes for a poor quality, you can do whatever you want and everyone has to do what you want them to do.

I don't know how we are going to get out of this one, really, I don't know.

Read this article, good info on it,

English Vintner