Archive for Growing Hops
Growing hops in Minnesota works well with our climate. I have put together a few resources for folks in our state (good for many similar climates). This info should be helpful for anyone considering or currently #growinghops , if you reside in Minnesota or not. Not much else to write about in January – today we are supposed to have a blizzard. Tomorrow it is supposed to be colder than 20 below zero fahrenheit with a high temp of 12 below zero! Not much hop action at these temps.
Some hop rhizome vendors (and hop plant vendors) are already taking orders for this season. Obviously here we can’t do any ground preparation this time of year but we can start planning what varieties of hops to plant. It is a good time to start planning support structures for our hop bines. Eighteen to twenty feet is an optimum height, but they will take what you give them. My pulley system only has 13 feet and 15 feet but they provide plenty of hop cones for my needs. There are many rigging systems and many creative ways to rig hop bines – Poles, sides of buildings and decks… (southern exposure is best, but east or west will work – (not northern exposure)). Get creative, my setup only cost me about $20 for pulleys, screw hooks, wooden stakes, rope and tie cleats by using the south side of my garage!
I hope these resources help to get you involved and gives you ideas on growing hops for yourself or even commercially.
- For brewing beer – homebrewing
- Health benefits – mainly stress relief, relaxation and sleep
- Privacy fence
- A natural wall or partition
- Cover for pergolas, gazebos, arbors, buildings
- Shade or just plain beauty of the bines
- Crafts – hop wreaths, hop pillows…
Hops grow bines, similar to vines. A vine has tendrils or suckers to wrap around anything it can to help support the vine. Whereas a bine itself wraps around – rope, twine, a trellis or fence and has stiff hairs that dig into the supporting structure to hold them in place. Knowing that tells you that rope or twine are the most efficient structure for them to climb. They can easily climb over 20 feet if they have the structure tall enough. Otherwise they will take what you give them so don’t worry you need 20 feet ore more of vertical space or supporting structure.
Varieties of Humulus Lupulus
If you are gardening for beer making / ale making, then you have 2 main categories to consider, bittering or aroma varieties of hops. The bitterness balances out the sweet malt used in fermenting so it doesn’t taste like liquid candy. The aroma quality is more for the “nose” or smell of the beer or ale… There are many varieties of hops to choose from. Some were bred for various American climates (offshoots of European varieties) and tend to do better here. If you are not gardening for home brewing, then the variety you choose is less important.
Humulus Lupulus (Hops) grow like weeds and can be invasive (spread). You just need to contain them by trimming their rhizomes after a couple of years. The rhizomes generally spread out in all directions just below the surface of the soil. Sometimes they will travel on top of the soil depending on soil conditions. You simply take a spade shovel and cut a circle around the crown or root stock of the plant, then pull up the rhizomes on the outside of the circle. Usually once a year is enough. you can also pull up sprouts as they appear where you don’t want them growing.
I have covered planting using rhizomes before so you can view that info here if you wish. You can purchase plants or rhizomes from gardening stores, homebrewing shops or online. Early spring is when they take orders and delivery is after March usually. Depending upon your climate, you may have to store them in your refrigerator until threat of a hard frost is over. Once established, the hops are pretty durable and you do not need to worry about frost and freezing.
There you have it. No reason not to be growing your own as long as your climate permits (see “info here” above). If you click on the Sitemap towards the top of the page, you can see a listing of every article on the blog. Most of the posts cover “how to” or status reports of my 4 years (so far) as a backyard bine grower. Start a hop garden this year.
Ok, I am an IPA guy. I love hops! If you dig hops like I do, you wait anxiously every year like I do for the annual release of Hopslam from Bells
brewery. Last year, I was not impressed – maybe it was a fluke and I received an abused six pack. (allowed to get warm/light stuck, whatever). Anyway, by the time I had a chance to give them a second chance – it was sold out. This stuff is usually that amazing that it sells out in record time, even at $17 a six pack.
Anyway, if you love hops, you must try this at least once. This is not for pussies – sorry for the truth, but, this is hoppy as shit and at 10% alcohol, not for the weak. THIS IS THE BEER/ALE I STRIVE FOR. Right now – go out and buy this – at least once in your life. If you cannot acquire Hopslam in season, buy Surly Furious. Talk about a manly friken ale – definitely separates the men from the boys. Surly Furious IS MY IPA OF CHOICE. Most are not manly enough to handle it at 100 IBU. If you are a man and appreciate real fricken ale (or a female that can hang with the big boys and/or shame the girly men) – THIS IS THE SHIT!
Alright, you know where I am coming from. Man up and see if you can hang with the big boys and girls. Try Hopslam and Surly Furious and be taken away by a hoppy, heavenly tongue tingling, hop heaven. This is the epitome of the hop experience! Hop on!