Category Archives: Hop Growing

Recipe: Wet Hop Ale

harvested-hops

This fall was my first opportunity to brew a wet hop ale. For anyone who hasn’t made one before, this is a beer brewed with fresh hops, picked as close as possible to the time that you brew, allowing as much of the delicate and volatile hop flavors and aromas to get in your beer.

I had a monster bine to clip from, and this one bine produced roughly 3 pounds of wet Cascade hops. I brewed an American Pale Ale, low gravity (just under 5%), to really showcase the hops. I added wheat for a little bit of body, as I didn’t want any crystal malts to interfere at all, really allowing the sweet citrus flavor of the hops to make their presence known.

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.08 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.28 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.28 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.28 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG
Expected OG: 1.052 SG
Expected FG: 1.013 SG
Expected ABV: 5.3 %
Expected ABW: 4.1 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 42.3
Expected Color: 4.8 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 74.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 9lb 0oz (90.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1lb 0oz (10.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
Hops
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Cascade 3.0 lbs Loose Whole Wet Hops used 1 Min From End

Yeast: DCL US-05 (formerly US-56) SafAle

wet-hop-addition

Last summer’s hop crop

hop-flowersI got called out for never doing any kind of follow-up on my hop growing last summer. To be honest, it’s because it was a lot of build-up and anticipation, but being their first year, they didn’t really produce much.

I had 7 rhizomes, 2 of which never sprouted, leaving me with 5 rhizomes. All grew into plants, with all but one growing over 10 feet tall. My Wilammette rhizome only grew about 4 feet in length.

My chinook plant was the only one to flower, but I got busy with some personal events around that time, and by the time I was ready to harvest the 1-2 ounces of flowers I would have gotten, they had dried too much on the bine.

I’m super stoked for this summer’s crop, they should all be juiced up and ready to go after establishing a good root system last summer, and I should start thinking about what I’m going to put into the two empty pots that I have left.

It’s still freezing cold here in Maine, but rhizome orders shouldn’t be far off, and with my indoor setup, I can get started pretty early.

First Year Hop-Growing

I’ve been interested in growing hops for quite some time. Last year, I wanted to get them from the local organic farming association, and found their website and catalog to be extremely confusing, and by the time I was able to contact someone, they were all sold out. So the project was delayed until this spring.

sproutsI made arrangements to get some hops through my friend Nate, but I was concerned about finding myself in the same situation I was in last year, so I ordered 4 rhizomes from FresHops.com. I ordered a rhizome of Magnum, Chinook, Nugget and Willamette. These hop varieties were chosen mostly for their vigor, the exception being Willamette, which was chosen because I like them.

I planted these 4 large rhizomes (each the diameter of a large carrot) in 20″ pots in my sunroom, filled with potting soil. Within 2 weeks I had hop sprouts breaking ground. I was ecstatic. I waited until the sprouts became long enough to begin to train onto twine, and then ran twine from the rafters in the sunroom down to each plant.

hop-vinesI learned one sad lesson in this part of growing new hops. If you try to twist them too forcefully around the twine, you break them. If you break them, the don’t keep growing. Good to know.

After a couple weeks of growing, the new rhizomes appeared from my friend. These were Magnum, Cascade and Centennial. These rhizomes were much smaller, about the diameter of a thick pencil, but I had about 4-6 of each variety. I again planted them in 20″ pots.

These smaller rhizomes do not have the same amount of stored energy that the larger ones had, and are taking much longer to break ground. To date, only the magnum have broken ground, but I know that the others are working hard to establish a root system, and hopefully they’ll all be happy next year.

My current challenge is to water them all enough to keep them happy, without overwatering. That and to temper my hopes for a decent harvest this fall from the larger plants.