Plantation Hops owned and
operated by Warren Graham
Warren is a retired Stationary Engineer and bought this 50 acre farm as a retirement project.
Little did he know how labour intensive hops would be! He tried organic soybeans, Barley and wheat, but the returns were tough to justify all the added labour. Weeds just get the upper hand. After looking for a replacement crop, he settled on hops. At the time, there were only 12 hops growers in Ontario, and a blight in Germany meant that those growers could sell all they could produce into Europe. The timing seemed right, so he jumped in.
The existing growers were more than willing to share information, but the new brewers were less than generous with their requirements. It takes 3 years to produce a hops crop, but they change their recipes and hops requirements seemingly on a whim. It is hard to plan ahead under those conditions. Consequently, he has more varieties than would be ideal. He currently has 15 varieties which have the benefit of ripening at different times, ensuring that all varieties get harvested at their optimum freshness.
Chinook, Saaz, Ultra, Tetnang, Cashmere, Glacier, Columbia,Pearle, Cascade, Nugget, Williamette, Centennial, Cluster, and Sorachi. A couple of the least productive, might find that they won’t be here next year!
Myfavourite variety is Saaz. Not only does it produce a German style Pilsner, but this particular variety has a storied past. The parent plant was smuggled into Canada 30 years ago on the lap of his neighbour’s sister. She worked in the hops industry in Bavaria, and these plants are descendants of true Bavarian hops, with the added benefit of this unique provinance.
He also has a wild variety, he calls Oil Field Gold. It was found in the oil fields of Enniskillen at Oil Springs, not far from Canada’s first oil gusher, on the farm of one of Canada’s first oil barons, John Henry Fairbank. J.H.’s great grandson, Charles Fairbank was kind enough to supply rhizomes from that 150 year old plant. Presumably one of those old oil drillers felt that he could make more money selling beer than drilling for oil.