B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Vancouver’s Last Hop Bine?

with 8 comments

CAMRA Vancouver member, Julian Price, has made an interesting discovery: Brewery Creek is not just a cold beer and wine store. Here’s his story and your chance to brew up some history.

In 1905 the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant was a logged-off area with only a few structures off Main or Broadway. One of them was a Vancouver Breweries building at the corner of what is now 280 E. 6th Avenue at Scotia. The brick and stone building is a heritage site and an artist live-work studio complex. The brewery was sited there because of the creek that flowed there. The water turned the grist mill and, of course, provided water for the beer.

Brewery Creek still flows but it’s underground now. It flows, as it almost always has, down to the False Creek flats at East First Avenue and Scotia. In fact, the Artech building has pumps underground to keep its parkade from flooding.

Across the street from Artech, there’s a large hop vine growing wild in the blackberry brambles. I can’t prove it, but it’s reasonable to suppose that spent hops and grains dumped outside the brewery found their way via stream, wind, or birds to where what now could be Vancouver’s last hop vine. False Creek was filled in to eliminate Mount Pleasant’s waterfront and Brewery Creek long has long since been sent underground, but the hops are still there…barely.

Recently, a City of Vancouver “Greenway” project has a planned bicycle path that will see the vine’s location on the boulevard bulldozed. The two-pronged approach of the path has brought the east end from Main Street to within a few yards of the vine. The westerly extension is at Great Northern Way and Brunswick, also within a half a block of the vine. I’m surprised there’s been a mature crop this year. I figured the machines would have sent the vine to oblivion weeks ago.

As the nights cool in the dying days of summer 2008, the last crop this old vine will produce has reached its prime. I’ve brewed with these hops, sold them on eBay, and given them away over the years. This is the last hurrah. I’ve taken samples of the hops to Derrick at Dix. He has said that he’s interested in brewing a fresh-hopped beer, but he will not be able to fit it into his schedule until the third week in September. The hops MIGHT still be there, but annihilation is imminent.

The vine is located on the north side of 336 East First Avenue, opposite the little park. Anyone interested in taking rhisome cuttings or hops will need pruners and gloves to clip away the blackberry brambles. The vine is large, so it will be possible to harvest a bunch large enough to brew anything from a basic five-gallon homebrew on up to craft brew sizes.

Cheers,
Julian Price

Another CAMRA Vancouver member has since advised me that another notable wild hop bine in Vancouver is on a pole supporting the wires for the heritage trolley, just below the pedestrian bridge over the trolley tracks, immediately north of where Hemlock meets West 4th.

So if you want to get some hops to make a fresh hop ale or add to your glass of bitter, pale ale, or IPA for some added fresh-hop aroma (be sure to bruise the cones before you add), here’s where you can find some. But before you do, take care to make sure they are not sprayed with defoliants or other such chemicals.

Update: reader Mattias Morrison has taken four cuttings of the heritage trolly bine and will be transplanting them at his new home in Campbell River.

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Written by BCbrews

September 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

8 Responses

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  1. Rick, this is awesome! Any recent updates? I grew up in False Creek just metres from the tracks. I’ll be going by after the weekend. Thanks again!

    Mattias

    November 22, 2008 at 12:36 am

    • Hop rhizome cutting & transplant complete! It will be interesting to explore the flavour of these somewhat wild hops.

      Mattias

      April 5, 2009 at 10:55 pm

  2. For those looking to get hop rhizomes for growing, you should contact Crannog: http://www.crannogales.com/farm.html. If they are sold out of rhizomes for the season, they may be able to point you to an alternative source. They also have a hop growing manual: http://www.crannogales.com/hopsmanual.html.

    bcbrews

    April 28, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    • They are sold-out for 2009 😦

      Ray

      April 28, 2009 at 12:23 pm

  3. That Heritage Trolley hop plant is still there, still growing up the wire under the pedestrian overpass. You’ll need to cutback a lot of black berry thorn bushes to get to it.

    Harry Hopperson

    July 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

  4. I hacked through the blackberries last year to dig up a couple of rhizomes from the heritage trolley hop bine. It was not an easy job! They are doing extremely well although they remain in pots at this time and I’m still not sure what variety they are. I am moving to the Comox Valley in the next few months and would like to bring some with me and pass the resta along to a brewer/brewery here in Vancouver. Anyone interested? Leave a message here with a way to get a hold of you.

    blaiser

    May 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

  5. Hi! I am a home brewer in Chilliwack and have stumbled across the location of two poles in the valley with hops bines flourishing. I understand that with proper care, cuttings from these plants can be transplanted to other climates. We have a cottage in southern Manitoba (right on the 50th parallel) with a sunny so’western exposure and a big trellis. I want to take cuttings here and get them going in a pot and then PLUG’EM beneath that wall in ‘toba to provide a shady spot to sit and drink beer brewed with Fraser Valley SLASH Manitoba HOPS!! Can anyone offer links on the how-to of cutting, how to successfully promote the baby bine in a pot; what season/conditions to cut; where (on the plant) to cut; how to nurture/maintain in a pot and transplant, etc?

    **Chillitoba IPA** anyone? Pics of the cones I harvested so far are on my facebook page.

    Mitchell Toews

    September 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

  6. Article I found about wild hops in Vancouver. The Granville Island spot is mentioned. http://thehomemadepint.weebly.com/wild-hops-of-vancouver.html

    Bill Illing

    September 26, 2015 at 5:12 pm


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