Hops - the wonderful flower of a vining plant that gives beer its distinct aroma and flavor. In fact, I would dare say that, above all else, hops define what makes beer, beer. Hops are to beer what peated malts are to scotch or wild yeast strains are to lambic. They are its quintessential characteristic which make beer taste like nothing else on earth. Rumor has it that they are also reasonably easy to grow and produce in a small space, which is why, as a home brewer, they were one of the first things planted in my garden after we moved into the house. That was last spring and while they put on some growth, they did not impress in their first season. That's why I was so curious to see how they overwintered. Fortunately I was not disappointed. While the sprouts pictured are small, all six rhizomes planted survived and seem to be getting an early start on growing this spring. The sprouts are also considerably thicker than they appeared last year when they sprouted which gives me hope that the vines will be considerably more robust this year. Stay tuned for more updates as the growing season really kicks into high gear.