Archive for September, 2009
The Nugget hops were ready to harvest 15 days after the Cascade and Magnum hops. A hop yield of 1.3 pounds. Thirty percent more than the Magnum hop harvest, less than the 1.8 pounds of Cascade hops. I harvested the Nugget hops September 10th, the other hops August 25th.
Not a bad harvest for first year hop plants. Next year should yield significantly more hop cones as the hop rhizomes planted have become sizable crowns / root stocks from the photosynthesis and organic nutrients from this year.
An essential ingredient for beers and ales, these hop cones will make an excellent IPA (India Pale Ale). Nugget hops are for bittering with a high IBU (International Bittering Unit) measurement. I will use my Cascade hops for aroma to complete the IPA experience.
Shown here is the yellow lupulin of the Nugget hop cone – the active ingredient of the hop. Although known for their bittering effect and not as an aroma hop, the Nugget hop aroma is exquisite.
If you are a homebrewer and live where you can grow hops (between 30th and 50 parallels), you have to do this. Hops are an amazing fast growing plant and fun to watch grow. Hops have been scarce in recent times so be self sufficient and grow your own hops! Growing hops will complete the beer making experience and camaraderie of home brewing.
Finally, Hop harvest time! My Cascade hops and Magnum hops were ready to harvest at the same time. My Nugget hops are still on the bine. Here is 1.8 pounds of wet harvested Cascade hops drying on a screen in my living room under a ceiling fan (air conditioned – low humidity). My wife was so happy to have the hops in our living room – ok, I made that part up, but I have priorities (won that battle!). They are out of the living room now, donated to friend who has far surpassed my homebrewing abilities (I get some excellent ales in return!)
The Magnum hops I dried in a couple of paper bags (single layer under the ceiling fan also). The Magnum hops were exactly 1 pound wet. When I say wet, they have actually dried quite a bit on the bine.
Not sure if you can see the yellow lupulin in this picture but it is plentiful. For a bittering hop, they are more aromatic than the Cascade – at least freshly picked off the bine. I am sure the aromatic quality of the Cascade will come out in a late boil and dry hopping. Here is a cross section of a Magnum hop cone (left) and a Cascade hop cone (right). The yellow lupulin does not show in this web compressed picture as well as I wished. I may set up a separate picture site to do it justice. The yellow lupulin follows the strig (stem) down the center of the hop cone.
The harvesting went well. I had to use a ladder to cut the lateral shoots that wrapped around the rope used to let down the bines (pulley setup) but my ladder time was minimal. I let the bines down on to a tarp and picked the hop cones off the bines while standing up – much easier on my back. When I was done harvesting, I raised the bines up again and will let them go till they freeze, allowing them to store energy for the root stock for next years growth (these are first year hops).
The tarp worked great, I did not lose a single hop cone. I will definitely use a similar hop trellis system next year with a few improvements. Next years hop harvest will be much greater with established hop plants. I anticipate double the beer hop cone harvest with an earlier start and more robust hop root stocks rather than just planted hop rhizomes. The re-hoisted bines are loading up the hop crowns with energy for next years beer hops.
Pretty simple huh? Why aren’t you growing your own hops? Try it you’ll like it.
Start planning now for next year’s hops. Select your spot, sunny southern exposure is best but an eastern or western unobstructed (no trees blocking sunshine) will work. Make sure you have vertical space, more the better. Start thinking about how you will rig the bines – trellis, ropes secured to a pole or tall structure… You have until spring to figure it out. If nothing else Google it – a great source of ideas.
Prepare the soil now. Dig down at least a foot and at least 2 foot diameter. Make the soil well drained and mix organic materials with the soil – leaves, grass, compost, composted manure, green sand… HOP ON!