Some great news on the gardening/brewing front, at least 9 out of 10 of our hops plants lived through the winter. I have to admit being pleasantly surprised. We had some very cold days this winter -44 fahrenheit according to our outdoor thermometer, and even in the photos I have uploaded you can see frost heave in the hops bed.
We planted 5 varieties of hop rhizomes last year, and were very lucky getting a reasonable batch of hops for brewing in our first year from two of the varieties. I am pleased to see that all of the varieties have survived, though one plant hasn't yet broken the surface - we will have to see if it catches up later, or if it is a casualty.
We planted Chinook, Cascades, Nugget, Sterling and Mt. Hood hops rhizomes last spring. We built a trellis along out back wall (only 14 feet high currently). The spot we chose gets the best sun year round - even during the winter, it is the one spot that doesn't generally "glacier" like the rest of the yard.
Our first year was unusual, generally it is a couple of years before a useful harvest can be made from planted rhizomes. Last Fall we harvested nearly a pound and a half from our plants. The flowers were not potent, and only the Chinook and Cascades bloomed fully, but we made a fantastic Belgian style wit beer from the harvest that was honestly one of the best batches I have brewed in a a year or so.
It looks like we might be brewing a batch of beer next week, so more on brewing to come.