Saturday, October 31, 2009

Witty name about my trip to Wisconsin

At the request of my rebel friend, I must admit that I have been remiss in my blog writing and now need to update ya'll.

Last weekend, I traveled up to the north land of Wisconsin to attend a hop growing convention. There is a group there trying to bring hop growing back to the Midwest. Currently 95 % of the hops grown in this country for beer making are grown in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. With 77% of the total hops grown in the Yakima valley, WA. But, currently about .0001% of this country's hops are grown in Wisconsin. Why so little you ask? Well, in the late 1800s, most of the hops in this country were grown in Wisconsin and New York. In fact Saulk county, where modern day Wisconsin Dells is, used to be corner to corner hops. Every year, 30,000 workers from Rockford, Chicago, and even into Indiana would flock to Wisconsin for the hop harvest earning 1-2 dollars a day, a month's wages in some places. But, around 1890, much like the potato famine in Ireland, the single variety was wiped out by a mold strain. So, the hops moved to the northwest, with their arid climates and consistent products.

I've been tossing around the idea of farming hops in Illinois on a smaller farm scale and in conjunction with other niche crops. This conference gave me a good idea of exactly what would go in to this endeavor. Approximately 15,000 dollars to start... per acre. So, it isn't exactly a cheap hobby... nor is it a short term investment. But it was a fruitful weekend in that I learned a lot about soil and hop variety. Plus the brew master of Capital brewery in Madison WI, Kirby Nelson, had us to the brewery for a private tour and lecture on hop quality's effect on beer quality. He also let us taste several beers off the tank. The tanks themselves are actually old dairy tanks, which was pretty neat. His signature beer now is an ice bock which is like a double bock but 25% of the water gets frozen off, producing a beer with a very high Alcohol by volume (ABV). And it was quite tasty, complex, almost syrupy.

On a side note, did you know that people from Wisconsin hate people from Illinois. I think it has to do with the Chicago folks who buy up all the lakefront property in Wisconsin so the locals can't buy property on their own lakes. Or, maybe it has something to do with the ultra-liberalized, snobby jerks from Chicago and the northern suburbs who mostly act as our ambassadors to the cheese land. Either way, I always catch a lot of flack from Wisconsinites who are ... less than charitable to Illinoisans. They even ave a term for us, "FIBS"... the I stands for Illinois. To combat this, I usually tell people I'm from Kentucky ... which is true in a manner of speaking.

The ironic thing is that few people in Illinois even know about this hatred. Kind of like a rivalry that only one side cares (or knows) about. I'm not saying it's unwarranted hatred. Most of the people in downstate Illinois hate Chicagoans as well, for many of the same reasons. But, to have such a widespread hatred that 90 percent of Illinoisans don't even know about... it's a little funny...



phampants said...

Well, this Chicagoan loves the people from southern & central Illinois. Heck, I even love Wisconsins, except when the Illini play them. =)

Anonymous said...

It's too bad more people do not even know about the really robust hatred since they are missing out on all the fun!

Still trying to figure out what the F, B, and S stands for???

dies irae said...

How did you end up at a hops conference? Wait...I forgot who I was asking this.