Home grown hops for brewing

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Flight0011, Feb 28, 2013.

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  1. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    So I want to experiment with growing some hops, I have ordered a total of 8 rhizomes and I havent decided which way I want to grow them yet. I have looked into regular growing in the ground, hydroponics and aeroponics. I have heard pros and cons to each method and that the alpha acid can span a wide range. I am curious about what others have experienced with home hop growing and also how it has made a difference in there brews.
  2. cjacobsen

    cjacobsen Zealot (532) Aug 26, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I have Cascade and Hallertau growing in my backyard. They grow up lattices right off the edge of my deck. I weave them throughout the lattice and then let it take over the deck. Looks awesome and yields a lot of cones now that I'm a few years in.

    It doesn't necessarily change my brews, but it gives me the option to do wet hopped or fresh hopped brews. I usually bag and freeze the rest. If anything, it helps save from having to pick up hops, but at the same time you have a crapload of whatever variation you grew, so definitely grow some you really like to use.
    Flight0011 likes this.
  3. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    Do you have them in the ground or in pots?
  4. dap325

    dap325 Initiate (151) Apr 2, 2009 New York

    Hop growing is a labor of love. It is certainty not easier than just buying them. Expect any planted rhizomes to not produce any usable yield until at least year 2, possible 3 depending on growing conditions. Other than that, they're fun to grow. I dont' know about hyrdoponic or aeroponic since I usually relate those 2 methods with indoor growing. Hops need a pretty tall trellis/twine setup to grow to their full potential, so unless you have a substantial indoor space I'd stick to soil in the backyard. They can also be a very invasive plant so be careful where you plant them and how far away you plant them from each other. The last thing you want is a spiderweb of vines that you can't distinguish which varieties are what. Whatever method you choose, good luck!
  5. Cottzilla

    Cottzilla Aspirant (227) Dec 2, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I have Centennials and they have done very well in the ground. Where I live the soil has a lot of clay so I added sand and manure to the soil before planting. DO NOT plant different hops close together. As dap325 wrote, they will spiderweb their roots. Also, plant in full sun if possible and water, water, water. Also, did I mention, lots of water? Every day watering throughout the summer until harvest.

    Hope this helps.
  6. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    All great information, any more advice? Im in the Pudget Sound area so I think its a decient place to grow hops. Any other information or advice anyone can give me on care and growing hops?
  7. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,318) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

  8. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Given their root system that, in my case, has spread out at least 20' from the crown so far, and the fact that you generally don't get a usable harvest for 2 or 3 years, I suspect they don't lend themselves to hydro, aero, or any other kind of -ponics. For the same reason, I suspect watering them profusely after they establish themselves is not necessary (when was the last time you watered a mature tree?). But I'm not a Botanist, so take this with a grain of salt - watering certainly won't hurt them. Personally, I think they're more effort than I can justify. I let last year's crop wither and die. I'm thinking about killing them altogether this year. Then again, they're a nice conversation starter.
  9. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (270) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Hops are an invasive species prone to aggressive underground propagation and vulnerable to destructive infestations of aphids and powdery mildew when cultivated in many US locations.

    Other than that...a few plantings can produce an over-abundance of cones come late summer which can be used 'fresh' (additions @6x 'normal' weight) or dried'n packaged for long-term storage providing you've enough seal-a-meals on-hand and plenty'o excess space in the freezer.

    Then there's the trelissing....
  10. hopdog09

    hopdog09 Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2012 Michigan

    well, you're in a good spot for growing..as I've posted before, I've been using my hops almost exclusivly for about 20 years..the vines will take over a space so be careful where you plant them..I use cut off section of 36" culvert set down about 6-8 " below grade and with good soil inside..after a few years you will have to thin the root system..run basically a flagpole up and attach the twine or SS cable ( what i use) at the end of the season you can lower the vines for harvest..no ladders required..they need lots of sun and water as they grow like mad at the beginning of the season..some as much as 12" a day..at harvest, dry and vacuum pack them for use..I built an oast out of an old referigeator that works great
  11. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    I like the flag pole idea idea, that sounds easy enough. How are they in there first year of growth? It sounds to me that for care they are alot like a fast growing grape vine.
  12. memory

    memory Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Nothing like making a wet hopped brew with cones picked from the backyard minutes before being tossed in the boil.
    Well, maybe cooking a just caught fish in a boat. Can't beat fresh. As for growing, I plant them in ground and support them with extended electrical conduit teepee style after driving rebar into the ground helping to support it.
    JrGtr likes this.
  13. hopdog09

    hopdog09 Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2012 Michigan

    depending on the vine and soil they'll do great the first year..contrary to popular belief, I have gotten useable hops in the first year, but second year is usually when they really begin to produce
  14. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    good to know, I think I have decient soil for it, kinda rocky, kind of rich. I am excited to see what I will get but I am not getting my hops up for much this year.
  15. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,318) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    The growers in Yakima WA will get 50% or more of the mature plant yeild the first year. Great soil, irregated, great climate, and they are pros.
  16. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I do a poor man's flagpole. I insert 1/2" EMT 'poles' into 3/4" EMT sleeves that I drove into the ground at either end of the bed. At the end of the season, I simply slide the poles out the the sleeves and drop it all to the ground. The sleeves stay in the ground for next season. The sleeves protrude about 6" above ground so I can find them in the spring. It's only 10', but I could add height with suitable couplers.
  17. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,621) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    I grew one rhizome of cascade in one large ~8 gallon pot for two years. I allowed the bine to travel up my patio pergola. In each of these years, I got enough yield to contribute the majority of of late addition hops for one 5 gallon American pale ale. Not a lot of yield for the effort. As I mentioned in a recent post, my wife did not want these to spread throughout the yard, so pots was the only option available. Because we do a lot of gardening and container gardening, this one pot did not seem like a lot of work to maintain, but if you grow in pots, don't expect to have lots of beer made with homegrown hops.

    I left the rhizome in the pot over winter and left the pot outside (in n. WI). The plant did not survive a second winter. Either it got too cold (the rhizome was likely much colder in the pots than in the ground) or it was too wet (exposed to big snow melt) or both. I might have done better to move it indoors, or at least to the garage. Because of the poor yield, I have not been overly interested in returning to hop growing. We planted some grapes adjacent to the pergola instead.
  18. IanSpindler

    IanSpindler Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2012 Alberta (Canada)

    What kind of yield (# oz?) did you get from one rhizome of cascade? Cheers!
  19. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,621) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    It's difficult for me to say on a per oz basis as those batches predate the entries in my current beersmith logs. I just know I eneded up using them as the flameout additions in pale ales. My guess would be about 1 oz each year. I did dry them, so this is dry weight. Sort of disappointing in terms of yield. The only reason to do it this way is to feel good about using locally grown ingredients.:sunglasses:
  20. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    I guess to grow them right they need to be in the ground, I am looking into a half whiskey barrel to start growing in, Im hoping this will be decient for the first yeat but eventualy I would like to transfer them into the ground once I have the room for it.
  21. marcdalke

    marcdalke Disciple (329) Mar 9, 2009 Connecticut

    Anyone have any pics laying around of their garden setup? I am doing this for the first time this year and I'd love some visual inspiration.
  22. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (378) May 2, 2006 Utah

  23. basscram

    basscram Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2006 Maine

    I took the plunge a year ago. You will definitely get cones the first year with at least one of the rhizomes for sure! not enough for a batch of beer though. Plant the rhizomes as instructed with a mix of cow manure and 10-10-10. You will have some cones in the fall from one of the many rhizomes you ordered. Some won't do anything. thats ok, thats why they tell ya to buy more than you would normally buy. put em in the ground with the cow manure mix and fert, water but not frequent so as to avoid root rot. if some grow out. cut first three that come out. plant each variety apart from each other as well.
  24. cates1tg

    cates1tg Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2010 Michigan

    I too am about to get my hands dirty with this endeavor. We've got plans for some raised beds garden with an area sectioned off to plant the crowns. I'm hopeful the foot and half raised bed will help deter the roots from jumping under the partition.
  25. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Your naiveté is, truly, charming! :wink:
    rocdoc1 likes this.
  26. broodog

    broodog Aspirant (222) Jul 18, 2009 Illinois

    8 varieties? Hope you have a big backyard! Enjoy. It's lots of fun.
  27. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Wither and die? My wife planted an ornamental hop a few years back , found it too invasive and it had to go.The hop didn't agree and depite all our efforts new shoots keep on appearing! These are tough beasts to be sure :slight_smile:
  28. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Disciple (304) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    My grandmother gave me a plastic sandwich bag with a Mint rhizome in it back in the 60's. I planted it, cultivated it, watered it, tilled the soil, etc for years until I moved out in the early 70s after getting married. I was at my Mom's house last summer. There was mint growing vigorously 100' from the original bed (fortunately, it's the same shade of green as the grass). I suspect that, like mint, hops are forever.
  29. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (724) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Good idea...sink the 1/2 barrel half way in the ground and drill large holes in the bottom...this will basicly give you a hill and the barrel sides will prevent some sideways creep.
  30. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    I planted my hops about a week and a half ago, they were all healthy looking with some decient shoots comming off of them. two of them have already broke the surface and are already spreading out there leaves. So far so good.
  31. pcsnyder

    pcsnyder Initiate (0) May 2, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I'm considering growing my own hops starting next year. What supplier have you guys bought your rhizomes from? When's the best time to plant them? I'd assume I would want to wait until after the last frost, right?
  32. GeckoPunk

    GeckoPunk Initiate (163) Jul 29, 2012 Connecticut

    Ditto... Looks like we're in the same boat.
  33. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (724) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I've bought rhizomes from many different growers/retailers...they almost always arrive in good condition. I've only had one die out of 11 and the other one survived (I always order 2 as recommended). Like any garden planting, they take some nurturing and love :slight_smile:

    If I wasn't so lazy I'd upload some pixs of my 10 ft tall Chinooks, et al...waiting for some easy uploading softwware that doesn't require a login.
  34. robbrandes

    robbrandes Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2010 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    maybe it's the magic of the southern oregon climate...
    single mound of cascades - probably 4oz dry weight 1st year, a full pound 2nd year, and last year i was certainly over 2 pounds off that one hill. i only had room for them to get to about 10' high, and i let a LOT of bines grow, probably 20 from that hill.
    as far as invasiveness, what everyone else said times 5. i transplanted all my hops this spring and found roots as big around as your thumb more than 10' away from the hill. they make bamboo seem quaint.
    and ditto the labor of love. 2+ pounds of hops - yay! so $20 cash value, probably spent 5 hours tending/picking/drying/pruning.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  35. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    This is a 5 year old Cascade crown, and it doesn't include the long runners that came up yards away from this main crown. This is a full size adult lawn chair.
  36. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    I don't know where your located at but I am in WA and I couldnt get any hops from out of state. I ended up going through RNV Enterprises. I guess the guy that runs it is the retired CEO of HopUnion. Anyway my hops came in great condition and they are growing pretty well.

    I will try to post a pic soon. I never got around buying the wine barrels and I will hopefuly be moving into a home and no longer renting so right now they are just in cheap plastic planters.
  37. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    That looks like a nice mess, I guess it would be advantageous to put up a good rhizom barrier.
  38. Flight0011

    Flight0011 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2013 Washington

    I almost forgot, Usualy hop rhizoms are shipped in early March so be sure to get your orders in before then because by the end of the month they are sold out. Besides that alot depends on location, rhizoms dont do well in a freeze. Mine have survived light frosts but on the nights when we were expecting freezes I would move them indoors.
    pcsnyder likes this.
  39. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    Most hop growers(individuals, not commercial) trim the roots every spring, and most homebrew forums will have threads about trading or buying these trimmings. This year I used all my cuttings to replace plants that died over the past 3 years of drought, but next spring I'll let you have some much cheaper than buying them online, but you'll have to remind me in February or early March.
    My plants aren't bothered by freezes, even if they've already come up all that happens is that the leaves die back but new bines come up almost immediately. In fact, the rhizomes need a certain amount of very cold weather or they'll do poorly. That's why hops are not well suited for the deep south.
  40. pcsnyder

    pcsnyder Initiate (0) May 2, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Thanks, Flight0011. I'm in PA, but I haven't found many hops growers or retailers near me, so I'd have to order from out of state. I get my homebrew stuff from Midwest Supplies, but I was worried about ordering rhizomes from them because of the distance they'd be shipped. I'll keep looking, though -- glad I've got the better part of a year to do more research!
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