Homegrown Hops on Howell
My friends Matt and Angela have been brewing their own beer for a few years now — they rarely buy beer from the store, and you know you’ll find at least one keg of homebrew at their annual super bowl party. (Here’s two from last year’s festivities.)
After moving into their current house on Howell Ave. and finding out their neighbor grows hops for his own homebrew, they decided to add hops to their backyard garden plan. What better way to make your homebrew taste more homemade than with homegrown hops.
To grow hops, you need a rhizome, which is a piece of the root of another female hop plant. You can buy online or use from an already established plant, as Matt and Angela did with a piece of their neighbor’s hop plant.
The rhizome should be planted in early Spring in full sun. The plant needs plenty of space and a fence, trellis or some sort of central pole for it to grow up. In Matt and Angela’s garden, the hop bine, as it’s called, travels up a pole and then along rope to the side of their back fence and garage.
Angela says you will likely not get hops the first year you plant as the root system is being established. Their plant is two years old and the hops are plentiful. They look like twinkle lights in the afternoon sun.
They enriched the soil with compost and make sure the ground is watered regularly. Matt waters almost every day if it doesn’t rain. The plant needs even more water as the roots grow deeper.
Hops can be harvested in mid to late August or September. They can be added to your homebrew straight from the bine as long as you use them within 24 hours so the oils are still there (these are called wet hops). Or you can dry and seal hops for later use. This weekend, they are planning to go with the first method, wet hops, for a test batch. It’s the first time they have used homegrown hops in their homebrew and we can’t wait to taste the results!
In addition to hops, Matt and Angela’s garden includes various varieties of greens, tomatoes, beets, herbs, flowers and even a volunteer pumpkin.
We’ll let you know how the homegrown hops on Howell work out. If you’ve used fresh hops in your homebrew and have any advice, please let us know in the comments section below.