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Cable + Hops = Beer

Posted by David Karbin | Tue, Dec 10, 2013 @ 09:00 AM | 10 Comments

The art of micro beer brewing as well as home beer brewing have become a popular pastime in the U.S. over the past decade.  Many small breweries have opened across the country creating artesian and specialized beers.

Part of this new trend has been the increase in small and large scale farming operations that produce the secret ingredient for beer – Hops.

Fotosearch k15395594Hops are a flavoring agent in the brewing of beer.  The first recorded use of hops for flavoring in beer comes from the 11th century.  Hops are female flowers (sometimes called seed cones or strobilus) of a Hop plant.  The flower provides a bitter, tangy flavor to the beverage.

According to Beer Advocate, “Hops are the age old seasoning of the beer, the liquid gargoyles who ward-off spoilage from wild bacteria and bringers of balance to sweet malts. They also lend a hand in head retention, help to clear beer (acting as a natural filter) and please the palate by imparting their unique characters and flavours {sic}. Basically, hops put the ‘bitter’ in beer.”

Just like the brewing of beer, the growing of hops is a fine art itself.  Very much like the art of growing grapes in France or Northern California, there are particular ways to grow and maintain a crop of hops.  Fortunately, hops can grow in a variety of agricultural zones. 

The Hop plant likes to climb, similar to grape vines, so planting next to a wall, post or trellis is important.  Commercial and home hops growers utilize an extensive network of vineyards that provide height and stability to the plant as it grows and becomes heavy with leaves and the pinecone flower.

According to the University of Kentucky Agricultural Department, “The overhead trellis system is most often used for commercial production, particularly in hopyards over one-half acre. This elaborate, 16- to 18-foot-high system consists of a number of wooden poles buried 3 feet into the ground approximately every 5 plants.  The poles are connected by overhead wire cables that run both down and across the rows, although some growers just run the wires down the rows. Edge poles, which are generally thicker than interior poles, are installed at a 60- to 65-degree angle outward. Guy wires attached to edge poles are securely fastened to deep-set anchors in the ground. Approximately 55 poles are required per acre.”

Then a series of strings or twine are tied to the cable and then attached at the ground level.  The plant grows up the twine as it matures and bushes out.  Having a strong cable system is one of the main ways that the heavy hops-laden plant keeps from collapsing into a messy heap.  Vines growing vertically produce more flowers than those growing horizontally.  If grown horizontally, it is difficult to maintain the plant, rid it of bugs and/or diseases, and also to harvest the flowers if the plants are not grown in an organized vertical fashion.

Lexco Cable has been a long time supplier of cable for many hop farmers.  The most common wire that we sell to them is 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4”, and 5/16” galvanized cable in bulk.  Lexco can supply both the horizontally installed cable and hardware for vine support and also the diagonally installed guy cable and hardware for end post support.  For cable to post connections, Lexco supplies either machine thread eyebolts or lag (wood screw) thread eyebolts.  For field installation we can supply a cable cutting tool.  And for tensioning we can supply turnbuckles.

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