Do you have a Hoppy Latitude?

Do you want to grow something easy to grow, fun to watch grow, smells amazing, and can be used to brew beer?  Yes, you too can grow hops.  While in most places hops are already growing, in many places you can still buy them and plant them thru May.  You will need a trellis or at least a strong post and something for them to climb.  Hops grow from a rhizome that you plant close to the post/trellis you want them to climb.  Once they come out of the ground you “train” them to climb by wrapping them around whatever they are climbing.  They will do the rest.  They need plenty of water in the beginning and love full sunshine/long days.  Most important thing for really growing the best hops?  Hops generally will thrive between the 35th and 55th parallels (sometimes as low as 30th parallel). Most of worlds hop production latitude:
Yakima 46.6°N
Bavaria 48.9°N

Southern hemisphere production is centered around:
Nelson, New Zealand at 41.2°S
Myrtleford, Victoria at 36.5°S
Derwent Valley, Tasmania at 42.7°S
George, South Africa (SAF) at 33.9°S

They will grow in other places, just not as well.  In these latitudes, you can watch them grow more than 6” in a single sunny day! 

Friday
Sunday

In my area, the easiest and most satisfying to grow has been Chinook hops followed by Cascade & Magnum.  The aroma profile for Chinooks are grapefruit & pine.  They smell amazing as they grow especially if you give them a little squeeze.  It takes a few years to get them to produce enough to seriously brew with them but you will still be rewarded with some hops the first few years.  By year three, I would harvest a few pounds from two rhizomes. Now, after ten years in one place I get from 10-17 lbs of hops which is way more than I can deal with brewing on my own.

A good year’s harvest
Ready to brew a fresh hop batch

Mine start growing in March and they need to be harvested by mid-September to early October.  When they first come out of the ground you want to cut all the small starts to the ground except for the best two or three tallest/strongest ones.  If anyone is serious about wanting to try, check out this document:

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/712717/hops-guide-for-new-growers.pdf

Feel free to ask me any questions about hops or brewing in general.  I’ll write something soon about commercial hop growing, harvesting, and choosing hops for brewing.  I’ll try to post some more pics as they grow and change so Stay Hoppy!

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18 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good way to dry them so I make a few fresh hop batches and then give the rest away or toss them. The rest of the year I have to buy hops but that is a good way to learn about all the different hops out there.

    • …so, I don’t know the first thing about drying hops but I knew a guy once who converted a small flat pack shed into a smokehouse

      …& we’re all staying home like good little boys & girls but I believe it might be possible to source flat pack/hardware/lumber still

      …so maybe this year?

      …impressive stuff, in any case…will be looking forward to hearing more about your efforts…& I’m going to have to find & try some fresh-not-dried-hops beer?

      • i dont know anything bout hops either… but weed is basically hops..i used to dry that by the twig on clotheslines in me bedroom.. took a while…but worked
        also i slept beautifully back then
        i probably also reeked off skunk back then
        i kinda miss having me six little plants in the backyard (well..they were taller than me..but still) but i lived out in the sticks then….its not a great idea in the city

        • Hops and Marijuana are cousins, they grow differently but share many of the same chemical oils.

          https://www.marijuanabreak.com/blog/marijuana-and-hops

          I got to walk thru an experimental hop field with the godfather of hops and talked to him about crossbreading the two. I had heard some Stanford researchers had written a paper about it. He said, yes they are working on it but it will be many years out. They are still working on viability of it. A new hop takes around 10 years to make viable so I wouldn’t rush to the homebrew or weed store. That being said, you can brew with weed and I have actually drank a few beers with marijuana that are pretty good. Some commercial breweries have done no THC beers too. The Lagunitas one was pretty good.

          9 Cannabis-Infused Beers to Try

          • yeah ive had a few of the weed infused beers and mostly liked them… im always a little dissapointed at the no thc tho… tbh i dont think its legal to pair thc with alcohol here..
            but im generally a big fan of mixing and matching my buzzes… so i say go for it
            hell throw in some coke while your at it

            • This book has some great recipes, including one with actual THC in the beer. It is written by Dick Cantwell who is world famous brewer and original owner of Elysian Brewing. He left when AB bought them out and was not happy about it.

      • I’ve pulled out all the screens in my house and layed the hops on them on saw horses in a warm room but they need to be in a single layer to dry to where you can freeze them. Commercially they have giant kilns with screens they dry them in, I’ll post pics of those when I do a harvest post. Fresh hop ales start coming out at the end of summer and if you see them after November, they are not probably worth buying. Oktoberfest connection to beer has much to do with the end of harvest which Bavaria is the 2nd largest hop producer after Yakima area.

        • well i guess i just realized a key difference between hops and weed is that weed doesnt need to be fresh…just dry..lol
          ill be keeping an eye out for your posts.. colour me interested 🙂

          • Most hops are dried or made into pellets but fresh hops have a different taste. I can’t say it is better, just different. Since you only get truly fresh hops once a year, it is a treat to make or buy those beers. Each year I go to a beer fest in Yakima that highlights all the fresh beers from this years harvest. It is the best weekend of the year if you are a beer drinker and we usually go for several days with a group of Hopheads. Doubtful this year it will happen but always have hope. Whole city smells of hops, they are blowing down the streets, live music and amazing fun!

            Home

            I just looked at the page and even found myself and friends in one of the crowd pics…too funny!

        • “but they need to be in a single layer to dry to where you can freeze them…”

          Just a thought, but if you know anyone who has a dark/black-colored car with a sunroof,I’d bet you could rig up a screen setup that’d dry them out well😉

          Signed someone who’s accidentally desiccated fruit, MANY times, by leaving it in the cupholder of her car on a nice, sunny, day😉🤣

            • If you had screens you can pop from the dash to the seat backs, then again from the seatbacks to the back, all you’d need is help to spread out the hops…

              Just make sure the car is parked in the sunshine, and crack the sunroof a little bit, and it’ll act a bit like a convection oven–the air will get hot inside & escape out the cracked sunroof…

              Suuuuuuucks like hell to get in & drive the car after you’ve accidentally turned it into an oven, but it works GREAT for drying things😉😆🤣

    • They’re pretty too. One of our local craft breweries has a farm where they grow their hops. They have a brewpub, hiking and biking trails so it’s a nice place to go with the dog. And it looks so nice with all the hops growing in the field. I’ll try to get some pics when it’s open to the public again.

  2. I have a neighbor who has started growing them. I need to remember to start buttering him up close to harvest time.

    This post got me into looking around how people dry them. This looks like a pretty simple build.

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Hop-drying-oast/

    It occurred to me that a clever person could build one so that each level was a little bigger than the one on top, so the whole thing could be taken apart and nest like a Russian egg for compactness when not in use.

  3. That’s a good idea. I’m already on thin ice w/ my current home brew setup with how much space I take. Maybe if I can figure out how my wife could make use of that too I could justify it. #lifegoals

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