I’m taking the day off from research today. If you haven’t read them yet, you might want to catch up on our previous posts about harvest time on the Jonathan M. Clark farm and in old Washington/Ozaukee county here, here and here.

In researching those posts, one thing I found odd about Washington county’s 1850 agricultural census was the complete lack of hop production in the county that year. Did that change by 1860? I’ll have to find out. I have a feeling that it wasn’t long before some of Mequon’s gardens looked something like this:

Photo credit Reed Perkins, July, 2016. Click to open larger image in new window.

Those are hop bines twining around and up the poles in one of the farm gardens at Old World Wisconsin in July, 2016. You will probably not be surprised to learn that

[b]rewing has been a Wisconsin tradition since the Territorial era, and records of the state’s earliest breweries date back to the 1830s. The growth of breweries in Wisconsin is often linked to the increased settlement of German immigrants in the state. These Germans brought with them the knowledge of German brewing techniques, an affinity for German-style lagers, and a fierce pride that instilled in them a need to maintain their cultural identity.


Of course, hops are a key ingredient in beer, but they are also used to make other teas and soft drinks. My wife’s Grandma Hazel remembered growing hops in the family garden, making—and enjoying—dricka (“drink”) with her Swedish-American grandparents in early 20th-century Saunders County, Nebraska. Grandma wasn’t quite sure what dricka was, but she was pretty sure it wasn’t beer. It’s possible their Nebraska dricka was a kind of small beer, perhaps similar to svagdricka. I wonder if our Mequon predecessors did something similar. Readers: any family stories or personal remembrances?

Have a good weekend. See you Monday. Prost!

3 thoughts on “Hops

  1. I remember as a kid growing up in the fertile Willamette Valley of Oregon, the amazing hop farms up around Portland. They reminded me of gigantic string bean farms like the ones around our farm near Salem. The hops could be lowered close to the ground for harvesting. I suppose nowadays they have some mechanical way of doing it. I think a lot of those hops around Portland must have gone to the Blitz-Weinhard brewery there. As we used to say, “Let’s get Blitzed.”


  2. Pingback: Happy 208th Birthday, Jonathan! | Clark House Historian

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