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Hops: Homegrown For Homebrew

Homegrown hops are the easiest beer ingredient for a homebrewer to produce on his/her own, and with some know-how on your end, you can grow your own harvest year after year.

Eric Reinsvold Sep 7, 2016 - 7 min read

Hops: Homegrown For Homebrew Primary Image

One of the most approachable beer ingredients a homebrewer can tackle is homegrown hops. Sure, yeast wrangling is a fun, nerdy challenge, but chances are, the wild bugs will produce something that reminds you more of a used diaper than Cantillon. And yes, wheat and barley grow all over, but even the most stewarded of plots in a typical homebrewer’s backyard will produce barely enough for the nanoest of nano batches (not to mention, the need for home malting).

Hops is a weed and relatively easy to get started, so if you tend your bines over the growing season, you’ll probably be looking up at enough cones for several batches of homebrew.

Hops Harvest Timing

The plant does all the hard work over the summer, but as the days shorten, it’s time for the brewer/farmer to go to work. The timing of the harvest is critical. If you pick too soon, you may be left with underdeveloped flavors that have more of a grassy note and take an even longer time to dry. Pick too late and you may be left with oxidized, resinous hops flavors that can come off oniony, garlicky, or even cheesy. Each hardiness zone is going to be different, but careful monitoring of the cones’ firmness is the easiest way to track hops maturity. Ripened hops cones will have a parchment-like texture on the outside and when squeezed will rebound to their original shape relatively quickly. Rub the cones in your palm to get a sense for the aroma development and let your nose, eyes, and hands guide you.

Hops Harvest Methods

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