Black River hops harvest – from farm to fridge

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The Evans family hosted a hops harvest festival at their farm in Waltham, September 11-12.

Peter L.Smith



The Evans family hosted a hops harvest festival at their farm in Waltham, September 11-12.

Peter L.Smith

WALTHAM – John Evans and his son Chris are in their third year of harvesting hops on their farm on the Black River Road. They invited friends from the Ottawa valley to visit their farm, assist with the harvest, and learn about hops farming while enjoying the scenic
countryside, September 11, and 12. 
The Evans grow and harvest the female Cascade variety of hops which is ideally suited to their fertile, well-drained land. The small family run operation is patterned after Bristol Hops and the two businesses often share knowledge and expertise. They also receive advice and assistance regarding the drying process from Charles Allard and his
sister Mireille who own Houblonniere Lupine on L’Isle-aux-Allumettes.
Chris explained his operation is 100 % organic, using no pesticides,
herbicides or chemicals. “Our drip irrigation system sends water directly to the hops plants so no water is wasted. We have a creek on our farm so water supply is not a
concern, but it is very helpful since hops need a lot of sun, and thus plenty of water to ensure a good harvest,” said Chris.
The Evans’ operation is relatively small in size, consisting of four rows of 16 hop hills. As the plants grow, they are trained to climb a trellis system and can finish up to 18 feet in height. Once the plants are pulled, the harder work of removing the hops from the vines begins. Once harvested, the hops are placed in a dryer and then vacuum-sealed in one-pound bags for delivery to Ottawa area buyers who produce the finished beer varieties. They produced 25 pounds of dried hops last year; this year’s harvest is expected to double.
Wayne Stewart, a friend of Chris and a
resident brew master in Ottawa, offered guests samples of two different varieties of beer that he made as well as some homemade hops ice cream.