Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Wheatland Hop Riot, a seminal event in labor relations, the second major labor dispute in U.S. history, and the first event to shine a light on the plight of agricultural workers and their conditions. It was for this event that High Water Brewing named their Hop Riot IPA, as its name pays homage to the legacy of hops in California, which before prohibition was the largest hop-growing state in the U.S.
Here’s one account on the riot, this one from True West:
In the region northeast of Sacramento, field temperatures had hit the 120s—tough working conditions for the migrants harvesting hops, the green plant (related to hemp) used in brewing beer.
The work was hard, and the season short (by the end of August, the migrants would be moving on). The Durst Ranch, the largest agricultural employer in California, needed about 1,500 workers; nearly double showed up. Most workers made less than $1.50 a day—big pay in a time of national recession.
Conditions were hellish. Workers had to buy water (contaminated by acetic acid) for five cents, plus food and other supplies from a price-gouging company store. Dysentery was rampant, with less than a dozen toilets available for workers. Garbage and refuse cluttered the area. (In all fairness, the situation at the Durst Ranch was not unusual for California operations that hired migrants.)
Richard “Blackie” Ford, a former organizer for the radical Industrial Workers of the World, decided to mobilize the Durst Ranch workers to get higher pay and better conditions. He presented a list of demands to Durst on August 3. The rancher agreed to all of them—regular ice-water breaks (at no charge), more toilets and so forth. But he wouldn’t boost the pay.
Ford said that wasn’t good enough; some accounts state Durst responded by slapping Ford in the mouth. The labor man then went to a nearby platform to harangue the workers. Durst went into town to get the authorities.
The rancher returned with a couple carloads of men, including Yuba County Sheriff George Voss, Deputy Eugene Reardon and District Attorney Ed Manwell. They arrived shortly after five p.m., and Ford had the crowd worked up.
Just what happened next depends on which side you believe. The authorities and Durst claimed that some workers had attacked them. Ford and the migrants said the lawmen had opened fire on them. Either way, a melee ensued.
When it was done, Manwell, Reardon and two workers were dead. Sheriff Voss was severely injured, as were an untold number of folks on both sides. Ford was on the run, and most of the workers had scattered to the four winds. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Ford and organizer Herman Suhr were arrested. Neither participated in the attacks, but officials accused them of inciting the violence and charged them with murder.
The trial took place in January 1914 in nearby Marysville. Most locals (including jury members) weren’t sympathetic to the union or the migrants. Both defendants were found guilty of second-degree murder and given life sentences. The proceedings received international press coverage.
After the incident, the Durst Ranch gave in to all the demands, including the higher pay. The hop crop was brought in without any further trouble.
Ford was pardoned in 1924, and Suhr paroled two years later.
Another account, suggests that Durst was hardly blameless, and at least shared responsibility by the way he tricked and treated his workers, a not uncommon occurrence at that time.
An important and highly-publicized event in California labor history, it was the second major labor dispute in the United States supposedly initiated by the Industrial Workers of the World. The bloody clash, which occurred at the Durst Ranch in Wheatland, California, was the climax of growing tensions brought about by the difficult conditions farm laborers at the ranch endured. The riot resulted in four deaths and many injuries. It focused public opinion for the first time on the plight of California’s agricultural laborers, and resulted in new state legislation to regulate labor camp conditions. A new State Commission on Immigration and Housing was created to help improve working conditions. The Wheatland Hop Riot was also the first major farm labor confrontation in California and a harbinger of decades of attempts to organize or control agricultural labor.
Durst advertised for 3000 hop pickers and other seasonal agricultural workers, though he only needed half that number — in order to drive wages down. Of a $1.50/ day wage, $0.78 – $1.00 was withheld from the workers’ pay. If a worker didn’t stay till the end of the season, Durst kept that withheld money. Durst then had the workers harassed, cheated, and abused to try to make them leave before the end of the season. The strikers demanded water twice a day, separate bathrooms for men and women, and higher pay. During a speech by Richard “Blackie” Ford, the Yuba County sheriff and a group of over 100 vigilantes fired into the crowd of workers, causing the riot. Two workers, a deputy, and the district attorney were killed. The National Guard was ordered into the area and 100 workers arrested.
In addition, libcom.org has an account of the hop riot and the Sacramento Bee has their version to commemorate the 100th anniversary this year that was posted a few days ago. You can also read more about the Wheatland Hop Riot at Wikipedia, too.
David A. Kulczyk also wrote an interesting, more labor-friendly, account, published in 2007, entitled “Hops of Wrath, 1913’s bloody Wheatland Hop Riot eventually led to better conditions for workers. Too bad it was only temporary” and LaborNet has the Legacy of Wheatland.
So tonight, drink a toast to the men and women of the Wheatland Hop Rio, and make it a High Water Hop Riot IPA.
As today is IPA Day, we should remember that as wonderful as these hoppy beers are, there’s a lot of mythology surrounding them, much of which is exaggerated or simply untrue. Several British beer historians have been working hard to reveal the truth — and dispel the myths — and have largely shown that the standard story of IPAs is simply not accurate. A good place to start is with my friend Martyn Cornell, and his Five facts you may not have known about India Pale Ale. For even more great information, buy his wonderful book, Amber, Gold & Black. Amazingly, he often gets angry comments and e-mails from Americans who prefer their cherished mythology over learning the truth. And there’s also Pete Brown (author of Hops and Glory) and Ron Pattinson, too, who have taken a good look at IPA’s history.
I’m starting to think we should lose the “India” in IPA and replace it with “Imperial,” although I know some people have a hard time with that modifier, too. But in a sense, an IPA is an imperial version of a pale ale, so it seems like it would work; and it would allow an Imperial Pale Ale to remain an IPA. Furthermore, Double IPAs and Triple IPAs could continue to be called by those names, with a minimum of fuss, although we’d have to ditch Imperial IPA in favor of Double.
To me, the most exciting thing about IPAs these days is that IPA is no longer simply one kind of beer, if indeed it ever was, but instead has fractured into numerous varieties. As I detailed in my latest newspaper column, IPA Day, there is currently American-style IPA, English-style IPA, Imperial/Double IPA, Triple IPA, Black IPA (or Black Ale), White IPA, Rye IPA, Belgian IPA (or Belgo-IPA), Farmhouse IPA, Wild IPA, IPL, Red IPA, herbal IPA, spiced IPA, Session IPA, West Coast IPA, San Diego IPA, Single Hop IPA, and who knows how many others. I’m sure someone is working on a Quad IPA right now. Can a Fruit IPA be far behind? But whatever kind of IPA you hoist today, enjoy the hop flavors in it, secure in the knowledge that there are more different beers being called an IPA than at any other time in history. To me, that’s certainly worth celebrating. Happy IPA Day!
Today’s infographic is a hop wheel, created by Puterbaugh Farms, a fourth generation hop farming family in Yakima Valley of Washington d.b.a. Hops Direct.
The Hop Flavour Spectrum has been created through years of research, experimentation and conversations with brewers, and by tasting a few beers along the way. It’s what we believe, and we want to build the spectrum with what you think too. Our hop varieties are divided into four flavour profiles: fruit, floral, spice and resin. This allows brewers to compare varieties and get an understanding of how each hop may impact the flavour of beer.
Then they took that scheme and placed the hops that their company carries on the spectrum, depending on each hops’ characteristics. Beverage World, in describing it, “The Hop Flavour Spectrum goes beyond the limitations of chemical analysis to provide an effective tool for comparing varieties and understanding how each hop may impact the flavor of beer.” You can click on each variety listed to see additinoal information about it. It would be cool to see even more varieties added to the spectrum.
I’ve been known to enjoy a nice cigar after a big meal, often paired with a LBV port or a big beer. I used to have a small humidor, but after the kids came along I noticed I hardly ever sparked one up, so I got rid of it, and the cigars that were inside, a decade ago. Still, I’ve accepted a cigar from friends while out at beer events from time to time, and I confess I do enjoy the ritual of a cigar, how it slows down the pace of life and forces you into an unhurried, relaxed state. Even so, I’m not quite sure what to make of these. A cigar company is making cigars that are “seasoned” with Centennial hops. The company, Hopz, markets them as “craft beer cigars” with tobacco from the Dominican Republic.
Ted’s Cigars carries two different sizes of Hopz cigars. The first is the “Toro”
The second is the “Petit Corona.”
Here’s the story about how the Hopz cigar came to be:
One evening, after a particularly lengthy “meeting” at the local pub, it occurred to Ted that he should set out to create the perfect smoker’s complement to his favorite IPA.
He experimented with dozens of craft beers, and equally as many hop varieties, until settling upon Centennial Hops, known for their robust floral aroma, to season this premium Dominican Republic Cigar. The result is the HOPZ® Craft Beer Cigar.
We use the same aromatic process that we use to season our Maker’s Mark Bourbon Cigar to give this 6×50 toro its remarkable ale-like qualities, and then seal it in a glass tube for freshness. When paired with an extra-hoppy IPA this cigar makes the already pleasurable experience of a well poured pint worth sitting down for. Ted invites you to do the same.
Hmm, I can’t decide if that sounds ideal or completely foul. The claim is that they’re perfect to pair with hoppy beers. Anybody try one? What do you think? Is this a good idea?
Today’s infographic is an interactive one called The Hopometer, which is subtitled “Visualising beer strength and bitterness.” It was created by Peter G in London, whose blog Paint by Numbers is used for “focusing on [his] experiments with data visualisation predominantly using Tableau Software.” That’s why you really need to look at it on his page.
For our 77th Session, our host is Justin Mann, who writes his eponymous Justin’s Brew Review. His topic is to question the popularity of craft beer’s fastest growing category: IPAs. Or as he puts it, “What’s the Big Deal About IPA?”
For quite some time now, I’ve been wondering what makes the India Pale Ale (IPA) style of beer so popular. Don’t get me wrong–I thoroughly enjoy it and gladly participate in #IPADay. I’m just wondering, why all the hype? What is it about an IPA that makes craft beer enthusiasts (CBE) go wild? Is it because CBEs want to differentiate craft beer from crap beer? I don’t care if a watered-down pilsener is labeled as “triple-hops brewed”; it wouldn’t satisfy someone looking for an IPA.
At the same time, not all CBEs prescribe to the IPA way. The author (a beer writer!) of a recent article proclaims that “hoppy beer is awful” and that it is allegedly “alienating people who don’t like bitter brews”. I happen to like IPAs and DIPAs, so I’m not going to preach about only non-hopped craft beer, as the author suggests, just to turn people away from over-commercialized yellow-colored water. Besides, maybe the bitterness and hoppiness of an IPA is exactly what some beer drinkers that have yet to be introduced to the ways of craft might want.
So what’s the deal? Let me know what you think by sending me a link to your blog post on July 5. Or if you’re not a blogger, I’d still love to hear what you think. Leave a comment [on his announcement post], or connect with Justin’s Brew Review on your favorite social media platform.
So on Friday, July 5 — the day after celebrating American independence with a hoppy beer — weigh in on what’s the big deal with these hoppy brews, these “eepas.”
Today’s infographic is a dizzying chart of Pedigrees of Common Hop Varieties, created at the University of Minnesota, who began doing hop research in 2010. They describe the poster as a “24×36-inch poster [that] displays the pedigrees for over 40 varieties of hops developed by English, American, German, and Japanese breeding programs. From Brewer’s Gold to Bravo, Centennial to Millenium, Chinook to Challenger.” It’s also available for purchase.