February 12, 2018

Bit late for new year wishes but that about sums up this season so far!  We didn't get the hops to full height this year for a number reasons;  time pressures, equipment failures, family, day jobs and a fear of heights. But we did expand the trial to include a few new varieties; Fuggles, Saaz, Columbus, and Challenger which is exciting.

With a warm summer, consistent watering and more targeted nutrient application the hops are looking pretty good, although we're not expecting large volumes.  Based on the size, smell, feel and last years harvest date we expect to start picking the Chinook in the last week of February but further testing will confirm when they are ready.  Cascade & Goldings will be ready later.

If you're looking to get your hands on some fresh hops email us, skullgullyhops@outlook.com.au

I can tell you now, they smell amazing!!!

October 7, 2017

Check out this great article in Crafty Pint about an innovative hop farm in Heathcote shaking up the industry... in Central Victoria!

September 6, 2017

One of the most exciting things about this journey has been the interest in our venture. The locals in Heathcote (even the wine ones) are excited about a new industry, the brewers are keen to get local produce and trial fresh hop brews, the local beer drinkers (which is a pretty large audience in Bendigo region) are excited about new flavours and more reasons to drink great beers. Even the old school farmers are curious about the 6m trellis setup and what this is all about. It’s all been super supportive and we’ve loved meeting new people and talking about this.

Matt & Spencer at Cornella Real Brewery (located at The Shiraz Republic in Cornella, Vic) are no exception and we’re stoked to have done a collaboration brew with them using our first hop harvest. Using wet (fresh but frozen) hops Damian and the boys brewed an IPA which has definite fresh hop flavours even if it is a little different to what was planned.

Check out Cornella Real's blog for more about the brew day and some happy sn...

April 27, 2017

March 5 2017 was our first hop harvest! Helped out by fantastic family and friends we made our way through what was not a big harvest but was a fun and productive day.

On March 4, one week and one day before the original planned harvest, Damian called,  "We need to pick tomorrow." said a slightly panicked voice. So, out went all the careful planning as I desperately tried to round up helpers from near and far. It also through into a spin all the plans we had to use the hops but that's all worked out ok. 

Hot weather, wind and inconsistent watering had an impact on the plants. Unfortunately the fully automated irrigation system failed, which meant a more manual watering process was required. Considering we live 30 minutes from the farm and have jobs, kids and a life, daily watering was not possible.

Regardless, it's been a massive learning for us and we're still really excited about the future. Its great to hear the enthusiasm for a local hop industry echoed back to us whenever we ta...

January 9, 2017

For young plants, the  hops are growing pretty well. We've even got flowers on a couple of plants!

Since December, the sunshine and consistent watering (thanks to the new solar powered irrigation system) has really got them reaching for the sky. 

After planting delays as a result of the rather wet spring, it was a catch up game to get the weeds under control (by hand), get the plants mulched (by hand), apply organic fertilisers (by hand) and water (by hand to start off with). We're now feeling a little less under pressure although there's still pruning and admiring to do!

Promising signs of flowers on this Chinook.

January 8, 2017

Three photos around a week apart, showing the super fast growth of the young hops at Skull Gully Hops.

October 19, 2016

All the hops for our first planting are in, which is super exciting and also a big relief. Some we're getting pretty tall in their 14cm pots. As is the trend this year, the rain delayed planting but I'm not going to complain about the rain because firstly, I've never seen such big worms and secondly seeing Lake Eppalock full and flowing over the spillway is a treat!

Here's a snapshot of the setup, although you can't actually see the hops too well.

Now you might notice that the cables are nowhere near the top of the 6m poles. On advice from our friends at White House Nursery, being young the plants won't grow to their full height in the first year so it's easier (and safer without the right equipment) to run the cables this year at 3m high.

We've started stringing up to the 3m cables.

September 24, 2016

Our plants arrived only a couple of weeks ago but they are growing up so fast. Its crazy to think that in less than 6 months they will be over 6 metres high and covered in hop cones (we hope!). Actually, hops can take 3-4 years to mature and get to full production so we'll have to be patient.

September 4, 2016

Poles are up. Yay!

We're very relieved as its been a big effort with some time pressure hanging over us.  Our hop plants that we ordered way back in April arrive next week and the tractors going home soon (making Damian very sad). Not to mention the toll on the family having Damian spend all weekend at the farm away from me and our two precious devils, I mean darlings. Actually the kids love being at the farm, especially the 4-year old but we can only manage small doses in this weather.

Aside from these poles, lots of fencing and some old sheds, there's not much on our property just yet.

August 7, 2016

This tricky frame was designed and built by Damian, with help from his dad John, to allow him to get the poles in place on his own.

You can see in the clip there's an tripod mounted on a trailer with a wince and some well placed guides that work together to pull the pole into place and lift it until it drops into the hole and holds it vertical so that the hole can be back filled. There were a few nervous moments putting the first pole up with this custom designed frame but it worked like a treat! Whilst its easier with two people as there's a bit to set up, it can be managed solo. We also learnt the hard way to only attempt this work in winter if absolutely necessary.  The poles needed to be braced even once backfilled and will have to remain so until the ground dries out at fuly supports the poles weight.

Next year we'll schedule infrastrucutre works for before the ground gets too wet!

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Skull Gully Hops 

Committed to ethical, sustainable farming and building the local economy. Our Hop Garden will provide an alternative source of hops to the growing Craft Beer Industry in Victoria.

Find out more about the Muscovich journey at Skull Gully Hops.

Learn about the hop varieties we are growing in Heathcote.

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