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In Commana, we harvested Breton hops

Long green lianas slalom over tables six meters long. At the foot of the hops’ alleys, a volunteer worker beehive is busy in the open air to carefully detach the hop cones. Welcome on the land of Benoît Barantal, in Commana (29).

The microclimate of the Monts d’Arrée

This Saturday, September 11, 2021, is harvest day. Next to the shallot fields stand the acacia poles welcoming the small hop plant. An area of ​​just under one hectare, where 1,200 plants of 14 varieties are grown, lined up in rows up to eight meters above the ground. After four years in Loperhet (29), Benoît and his childhood friend Gwenolé Ollivier, creator and producer of local beer D’istribilh since 2013 in Plouider (29), have migrated their plants “to the microclimate of the Arrée mountains” in the spring of 2020. It is one of the eight units now planted in Brittany, where the changing weather does not help this a “demanding and sometimes thankless” culture. The prospect is dizzying. It feels like a green bamboo grove!

Hops are a climbing plant that grows along a pole or wire. The ropes on which the hop vines have grown are cut and then placed on tables where the flower is picked by the fifty or so volunteers (François Destoc / Le Télégramme)

Remove the leaves, also detach the petioles (stems) and keep only the cones. Come on, everyone at the table!

The rain and the variations in the thermometer this summer disrupted the growth of rhizomes, brought down mildew and delayed the date of collection by a few days. But the magic of word of mouth (and, for 15%, of social networks) has again brought together, this year, around fifty volunteers to fill the boxes (large bins) with the precious green glands, from female flowers. hops. It is they, and especially the lupulin nested in their hearts, which give its precious aroma to the finished product: beer!

In Commana, we harvested Breton hops
About fifty volunteers took part in the second harvest, on the hop farm operated by D’istribilh, with the peasant and barley producer Benoît Barantal, on Saturday September 11, 2021, in Commana (29) (François Destoc / Le Télégramme)

“Remove the leaves, also detach the petioles (the stems) and keep only the cones. Come on, everyone at the table! “, Had fun, to begin with, the cheeky Gwenolé Ollivier, perched on an articulated arm, from where he cut the vines all day. Below, Gaïd and Rozenn, mother and daughter of Aber-Wrac’h (29), are machining. “We are here out of friendship with the D’istribilh team. And because their beer is damn good! “

Like the harvest of yesteryear

The festive and convivial spirit, this Saturday, recalls the intergenerational harvest of yesteryear. We would forget a little about the covid crisis. Retired travelers from the Pays Pagan chatter on the right. Families are seated on the left. Several locals from the stage work in the middle, tasting a pressure made in D’istribilh. Like the fifty-something Jean-Luc, amateur brewer in Saint-Sauveur (29). “We’ve been making our own beer in the garage with some friends for five years. It’s fun and relaxing. In our townships, there are a lot of people doing that! “

In Commana, we harvested Breton hops
Volunteers get busy to collect the lianas and pick the hop cones, in the field of Commana (29) (François Destoc / Le Télégramme)

We are a 100% local organic microbrewery, from the field to the bottle, and we care about it

At 8 p.m., two cubic meters of flowers had finished embalming the large bins of Quillidiec. Temporarily leaving the hopper completely naked. In a few days will come the drying. Then the brewing, with a first seasonal Breskin beer, in bottles before Christmas. Gwenolé Ollivier and Benoît Barantal praise this solidarity which, for the moment, avoids labor and mechanization. “We are a 100% local organic microbrewery, from field to bottle, and we care about it. We also produce our barley which we transform. »At home, no importation of Belgian malt but solidarity, and taste in it. Big pat on the back: “Here is our ferment!” “

In Commana, we harvested Breton hops
The hop flower, and in particular lupulin (at the heart of the cone), is the essential ingredient which, added to fermented barley, will give the aroma of beer (François Destoc / Le Télégramme)

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