After months of patiently waiting and tending to my three hop plants, I finally harvested my hops! In late August, I noticed that some cones were starting to turn brown. I crushed a few in my fingers and unleashed strong citrus and pine aromas. As expected, they had a resiny / sticky feel from the hop oils. Based on that, I decided it was time to harvest the hops. On 8/23, I harvested the Centennial and Willamette. I waited until 8/29 to pick the Chinook.
|Chinook Hop Cones on the Bine|
After separating the cones from the bines, I dried them overnight in a food dehydrator at 95°F. Here's a summary of my hop yield before and after drying:
- 1st year Centennial: 4.4 oz wet, 1.2 oz dry
- 2nd year Willamette: 1.3 oz wet, 0.3 oz dry
- 1 year Chinook: 9.5 oz wet, 2.4 oz dry
|Hop Cones Ready to be Dehydrated|
As mentioned in my August update, my 1st year Centennial and Chinook plants outgrew my 2nd year Willamette. It seemed to get off to such a strong start in May. But it really fizzled out by mid-July. I expected more than 1 oz of hops from a 2nd year plant. I don't think Willamette is is a prolific producer in general—but just an ounce?!? I'm a bit disappointed, but I'll give it another year to earn its keep. If it doesn't shape up, I'll replace it with something else.
On the positive side, I was thrilled with my 1st year plants. I didn't expect to get much from them, and ended up with almost of pound of wet hops. All in all, I'm call my 2016 hop growing season a success! I think I'll plant two new rhizomes next spring. I'm considering high alpha-acid varieties such as Nugget (known to produce large cones) and Magnum.
While I was originally hoping to grow enough hops to make a 3 gallon batch of Pale Ale, I produced with enough hops to make a 5 gallon batch of IPA. I want the IPA to be relatively simple in order to showcase my garden grown hops. But it needs a twist. I'm thinking of adding some oatmeal to give it a creamy smooth body. Stay tuned...