This year, a bountiful harvest of cascade hops

Hops, small flowers that grow on a vine, are the component in beer that provides a substantial amount of its character, lending the beer the bittering taste element as well as much of the floral notes to its aroma. They also comprise a large percentage of the cost of beer production, while being a tiny fraction of the beer’s components by weight.

A few years ago I started growing some hops in my yard. I thought it’d be neat to add home-grown hops to the homebrew beer I was making. I read how one hop rhizome (plant) can yield pounds of hops, and when 2 to 5 oz of hops go into 2.5 cases of beer, I was excited for that sort of return.

Not so fast…

It turns out that hop rhizomes, while they can produce in their first year, really do take some time to achieve successful yields.

That first year I harvested five hops. Not even a quarter of an ounce. Each year for the last four years the plant has shot up more and more vines [3,5,8,10] with more and more hops each time. Last year, with 10 vines on one plant, I finally achieved a yield that enabled me to make a few batches of homebrew.

This year was a different story. This spring when I uncovered the leaves over the rhizome I saw over 20 vines starting, as well as numerous off-shoots, each with 5-10 vines. This past weekend we began harvesting, and off just one plant, harvested an amazing 9 lbs of hops.

Too often we expect immediate results

Sometimes our imaginations and optimism get the better of us. We know it’s hard work, or will take time, but we inwardly hope that the simple act of us joining a new service, or posting some content, will immediately yield tons of followers and result in our post going viral. We have delusions of grandeur. We get frustrated that social media, and making social media services work for us, is work, often tedious work that takes time to get any momentum at all.

Sometimes that turns to changing our content to be more attention-grabbing, bringing down our quality. Sometimes that turns into hiring social media ninjas, gurus, and jedis. And sometimes that turns into giving up on the whole damn thing and writing it off as nonsense.

We forget that, like many things, it is a channel that needs to be grown, organically, until that natural growth curve starts yielding the results that we want to be seeing.