My Hop Garden

Hops are one of the main components of beer.  Since I'm brewing my own, I thought I might as well grow my own hops...and this is the time of year to do it!  My local homebrew shops are selling 15 varieties of hop rhizomes.  A rhizome looks like a stick and is the cutting from a hop plant.  I selected these four varieties:

  • Cascade:  Classic Northwest hop, citrusy, all-purpose.  5 - 7% alpha acid.
  • Columbus:  Excellent bittering, flavoring and aroma hop. 12 - 18% alpha acid.
  • Kent Goldings:  Herbal and aromatic, the ultimate English flavor and aroma hop.  3 - 6% alpha acid.
  • Magnum:  Very clean, intense bittering hop.  14 - 18% alpha acid.

I really wanted Citra, but it's a proprietary variety and isn't widely available yet.  Hops are vigorous climbers and need lots of vertical space to grow.  In the summer, they can grow up to 1 foot a day!  Since I don't want to set up a trellis or run strings up to my roof, I decided to let them climb on my kids' play structure (alongside my kids) and along my fence.  

Hops are perennials and I've been told not to expect much first year production as the plants establish their root structures.  I should get a few cones,  but definitely not enough to make a batch of beer.  Next year should provide a decent sized crop  and I will use my bounty to make a fresh hop beer (probably a pale ale).

Anyway, I planted the rhizomes last weekend and will update this post throughout the growing season to document my hops' progress.

Have you had any success with growing hops?  What are your favorite varieties and growing tips?

Apr. 4:   I'm concerned that we might still get a frost (which will kill the rhizomes), so I planted my four rhizomes in a big container.  I'll transplant them in a few weeks after the risk of frost is lower. 

Jul. 7:   My hop garden isn't looking so great.  I transplanted them in late April (after the risk of frost was gone).  Only one of four rhizomes sprouted.  That one seemed to start off well, but it hasn't grown very much since then.  I think my hop garden experiment ended before it started.  Oh, well.  I guess I'll be buying hops for a while longer.

Sep. 19:  Although my hop garden was a flaming disaster, check this out to see what a real hop farm and harvest looks like.  My visit to Goschie Hop Farms.

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  1. Keep an eye on that area next spring, maybe theyll still come up. And definitely try a few new rhizomes...I tried my hand this year with Nugget, Cascade, and centennial....nugget was so-so, but apparently the cone production from my cascade was unreal for a 1st year growth. Cant wait to see next spring! I'm adding Fuggle and 2 more nuggets.

  2. I think I might give it another shot this spring. Do you grow yours on a vertical trellis?


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