Archive for Beer Hops
What varieties of beer hops are there?
Before you can decide what variety of hops to plant, you need to know the characteristics of different varieties of hops. The variety you choose depends mainly on the styles of beers and ales you like to drink.
Two main characteristics of hop cones:
- Bittering – measured in IBUs (International Bitterness Units – according to the IBU scale). The bittering attribute of hops is used to counteract the sweetness of the malt in the beer or ale. Alpha acids and beta acids of the hop contribute to the bittering effect.
- Aroma – there is no scale to measure aroma, it is used to impart a pleasurable aroma or “nose” to beers and ales, also referred to as a finishing hop. Essential oils of the hop cone are the source of aroma.
There are other characteristics that hops contribute to brews:
- Natural preservative
- Flavoring – various attributes such as – spicy, piney, citrus, woody, floral…
- Calming effect
All hops have both qualities of bitterness and aroma, it is the proportion of each that determines if it is called a bittering hop, an aroma hop or some hops are in the middle and considered both bittering and aroma hop. The main component of the hop cone is lupulin, a yellow powdery component of the female hop cone. It contains the resins of the hop cone.
Here is a comprehensive list of the varieties of hops
So depending upon the beer styles you like to drink and or brew, determines which hop varieties to grow (assuming they will grow in your climate and soil). The above list provides the name of the hop, country of origin and alpha acid percentage (bitterness). There are many hop description pages out there, this one is the most comprehensive list of hop varieties I have found. You will only be able to buy a few varieties of hop rhizomes depending upon your country and some on this list are proprietary (not commercially available).
Beers and Ales – the difference between beers and ales is the type of yeast used and temperature of the wort (mash/sugars) during the fermentation process.
- Beers/Lagers/Pilsners – bottom fermenting yeasts – lower temp fermentation – 40 -50 degrees fahrenheit
- Ales – top fermenting yeasts – higher temp fermentation – 60 to 75degrees fahrenheit.
The above are generalities that cover the majority of styles, there are exceptions to every rule.
Beer/Ale style and hops used – http://brewery.org/library/Hopprofs0497.html
This post would go on forever if I listed every beer style and hops used so I won’t attempt that. Checkout the above referenced link to get your hop rhizome list together (you can sometimes find hop plants for sale). Depending upon where you live, you may be able to plant right now (ground is still frozen here in Minnesota) but warmer regions can plant now.
One more resource I stumbled across http://www.hopunion.com/hopunion-variety-databook.pdf
One of my most popular posts will list a variety of online sources to:
buy hop rhizomes <== Click Here
Get your hop garden started!
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!
Hop cones are forming from the hop burrs nicely. It looks like it will be a staggered hop harvest which is ok by me. The Cascade hops are the most mature and abundant followed by the Magnum and the Nugget hops are still burrs.
From spiney hop burrs to hop cones, this is what it is all about. These hops are loving the sunshine and thriving. I can’t wait to see what they will do next year!
I am definately going to use a different hop trellis system next year. The hop bines are not producing lateral shoots and cones where they are wrapped around the hose hangers. It was worth a try but not producing any additional hops cones.
I will be doing more research this fall and winter for hop rigging / hop trellis ideas. Trying to figure out an easy way to spiral the ropes and provide additional hops bine length for my limited vertical area I have along side of my garage.