Archive for January, 2012
A little information on virus and disease free hops. Generally you do not need to worry about virus and disease free hops. If a hop rhizome or hop plant vendor sold a diseased product, how long do you think it would take in today’s connected world for word to get out? There is an actual disease free / virus free hops product out there, but they only come from the Pacific northwest – Oregon and Washington states – nowhere else at the present time to my knowledge. These VF (virus Free) plants are certified by Washington State University.
Hops, like any other plant are susceptible to viral, bacterial and fungal diseases as well as pests and nutritional (to the plant) deficiencies. Here is a list of hops diseases. If you chose to buy a virus free varietal, make sure it has documentation to back it up. Some unscrupulous vendors have been claiming their hop plants to be disease and virus free because they are created from cuttings as opposed to rhizomes – THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DISEASE FREE PLANTS. Below is an excerpt from an actual hop farmer who knows what he is talking about.
For those of you with questions regarding potted hops. We have noticed some people are selling potted hops as virus and disease free. They have claimed that the plant is virus and disease free because it comes from a cutting and not from a rhizome. That is not true. You see, the diseases that they are talking about are systemic. This means it is and will be all throughtout the plant or as stated in the dictionary: Systemic = “Relating to or affecting the entire body or an entire organism”. Always. So any new growth will have these diseases. Namely hop stunt viroid (HSV), powdery mildew, and vert wilt.
If the claim is that the cutting is virus and disease free then it has had to come from a plant that was certified virus free(VF). The only people in the country offering those, to my knowledge, is the Washington State University Hop clean program. And these have only been offered to individuals in the Pacific Northwest.
The other consideration is the fact that almost all of the propagated varieties come from the northwest. Many of them from the Oregon State, and Washington State Universities hop programs. I know the OSU Hop program has been developing varietals at least since the 1960’s. So i’m wondering. Where did these people get their plants from? Almost certainly from rhizome stock. And guaranteed from the northwest.
Buyer beware. Ask for proof of VF lineage.
In conclusion, don’t be fooled by individuals selling hops as “clean and virus free.” And certainly anything that is “certified” will have paperwork. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Homebrew– that’s what we do with our hops. Hops can be used for other purposes as well, such as
herbal treatments, hop pillows, hop tea, hop bine wreaths, privacy fences, cover for arbors, pergolas, gazebos… Hops as an herbal ingredient has relaxing qualities that can be combined with other relaxing herbs to create stress reducing teas and supplements and sleep aids. In this high stress world, who couldn’t use a little help relaxing, de-stressing and sleeping?
Stress Reducing Herbs
- Kava Kava
- St. Johns Wort
- Red Clover
- California Poppy
- Many More herbs
Back to homebrewing and the major focus of this blog, growing hops. Hops counteract the sweetness of malts (sugars) used in the making of beers and ales. That is the bitterness factor of hops. They also add aroma, clarity, head retention, anti microbial and natural preservative properties. As you can see, hops are very important to beer/ale making. Hops are one of the 4 must have ingredients of beer – hops, malt, water and yeast. German beer law – Reinheitsgebot, also known as the beer purity law or purity order, demands only water malt and hops – yeast was acquired naturally from the air or added as a sample of wort from a previous batch of beer or ale.
Variations of the amounts and types of malts, hops and yeast (and sometimes, other adjuncts), create the almost limitless styles, flavors and aromas of ales and beers. The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to making your own beers and ales. Unless you have your hops analyzed for bitterness (alpha and beta acids), you never know for sure how they will turn out. Variations in weather and nutrients can alter these properties year to year. To me, that is a good thing, something new and different each year. Like fine wine, some years will be better than others.
We grow hops to further our experience into home brewing. Saving money on growing our own hops, avoiding shortages, sharing hops with homebrewing friends are some of the benefits. As an avid gardener, I simply enjoy growing them and watching their daily growth – up to a foot a day! Hops are easy to grow. All they require is direct sunlight, water and fertile soil and something to climb (rope or twine is best). Hops are inexpensive to grow on a small scale and once established, come up every year for up to 50 years of producing hop cones!
If you make your own beer or ales or are considering it, grow some hops. Depending upon the styles of ales or beers you want to make, determines what type of hops you should grow. Basically, you want at least one bittering hop and one aroma type hop – more hop varieties are better. A basic instruction on growing hops can be found here ==> growing hops . That is why we grow beer hops – to homebrew.