For many, hops are the best part of beer. Learn even more about these bines (not vines, actually) by growing your own, helping harvest, or flying around the world for the New Zealand harvest:
Volunteer to pick and sort hops at Lucky Labrador Brewing Co.’s Hawthorne Pub location in Portland, Oregon. You’ll get your fill of beer, food and satisfaction knowing you’re helping create the seasonal fresh-hop Mutt IPA (named for the mix of fresh hops that go into it). Later in the fall, sip other breweries’ spins on fresh-hop beers at the Hood River Hops Fest, showcasing brews by 40 local and regional breweries that use hops grown nearby.
Grow hops for Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s RVA IPA. The Richmond, Virginia, brewery gives hop rhizomes to customers to plant at home in April. Throughout the summer, amateur home farmers and commercial hop growers share growing tips on a designated Facebook page; when harvest time arrives, the full-grown hops are tossed in the kettle for Hardywood’s seasonal RVA IPA. You can sign up for the program at hardywood.com.
“Visit the Nelson and Motueka region around March to correspond with the New Zealand hop harvest. There are a huge number of breweries and beer bars in the area. Most famous is the rustic, homey Mussel Inn (order the mussel chowder), and the creaky but charming Upper Moutere Inn, which is also the oldest pub in New Zealand.” —Jos Ruffell, co-founder, Garage Project brewery; Wellington, New Zealand