Boris Picks Hops

Drawing courtesy of master picker Bob McNamara

Drawing courtesy of master picker Bob McNamara


We have had an amazing harvest thus far here on the hill.  Our vision when we moved here was to build community around our farm.  We are really starting to feel that vision become a reality over this harvest season.  So many friends, new and old, have made the trip up the hill to get their fingers sticky picking hops.  It's been so much fun!  Our dear friend Boris Krichevsky stayed with us and picked hops for two weeks.  We can't thank him enough.  Here are his musings about his time here in the form of our first guest blog post--

When I met farmer brewer Saul he was known as Mr. Kleinberg.  A beloved, if sometimes cantankerous, high school social studies teacher.  Saul was not yet a farmer, and was still developing his brewer craft.  Over the years Saul and I bonded over lesson plans, curriculum and the classroom – we were co-teachers in Brooklyn, NY.  Soon after meeting Saul he introduced me to Laura, also a teacher in New York City.  The three of us shared an enthusiasm for teaching, matched only by our fervor for beer.

Fast-forward more years than I care to admit, and while there has been growth, we three have stayed true to our interests.  Laura and I are still dedicated to the field of education, albeit no longer as classroom teachers.  And Saul’s penchant for brewing along with everything else beer has been unwavering.

When I mentioned to Saul and Laura my interest in visiting the Griffin Hill Farm Brewery back in early July, they offered a warm and heartfelt invitation.  With a promising hop-crop ready for harvest, and a beautiful blue-eyed newborn ready for a diaper change, the farm had plenty of love and just as much work waiting for me.  I am currently in graduate school, and while I am thankful to be engrossed with my work, the world of academia is often isolating, and rarely presents opportunities for working with one’s hands.

I arrived at the farm brewery midweek; late in the evening as the sun was setting over Syracuse. Farmer brewer Saul greeted me, adorned in a straw-hat, but not in overalls, with a satisfied smile, “Four trays today Boris!” and so began my two weeks of being a farm hand.  Picking, or harvesting, hops is truly a pleasurable experience (I write this sincerely and without jeopardizing my journalistic integrity).  The hop cone is easily plucked off the bine, and placed in a sack, which is then walked down to the homemade hop dryer.

Watching the hop pile grow and taking in the hop aroma, sometimes complemented with a hint of citrus depending on the hop varietal, is just one part of charm.  The real fun is in the community of fellow farm hands that quickly develops and grows as the hops mature and become ready for picking.  On weekdays friends come by the farm after work, for hoppy-hour, and with a bottomless cooler of Founder’s AllDay IPA, we pluck hops and share stories.  On particularly lively days the stories are drowned out by songs, which alternate between singing about the progressive movement, If I had A Hammer, and hop-specific songs such as, of course, the hop.  Depending on the age and mood of the hop-pickers for the day hits like Drop It Like It’s Hop, It’s Getting Hop In Here, and Hop Down Summer In The City can be heard in the hop yard. 

Perhaps us farm hands are loopy from the lupulin, or maybe it’s the blue-sky spread wide above the trelles’s, but working on the hop farm is full of happy days. Monday, Tuesday, Hoppy days.