Growing Hops at Home

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Growing Hops at Home

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:18 am

My son has started home brewing. He has make 3 batches so far. He has bought a good heavy stainless steel pot with a drain on the bottom as well as a bunch of stuff that you need for home brewing. He and a friend even made their own wort chiller out of copper pipe that they bent to size. So to aid him in this pursuit I am considering planting and growing hops for the process. From what I have read on the net and the little I learned from a seminar on growing hops I attended, this area of Pa is about an ideal climate for growing hops. The area from New York down to North Carolina works for growing hops here in the east and Pa is right smack dab in the middle of that range. The only problem with growing hops here in the East is mildew that grows in the east but does not effect the hops grown out west. That is why all the commercial hop growers are located out west. I am thinking of using a Tee Pee type trellis with the strings extending from a center pole to the ground in a circular pattern. The location I am thinking about using is the sunflower garden I have been planting for the Grandkids. I am torn about using that location because I still have Grandkids small enough to enjoy the sunflower fort, and they do still go up there on occasion . The plan would be to plant a high pole [ maybe 20' ] in the center of the 12' X 12' garden where I have already improved the soil, use 2 pulleys, one on either side of the pole to raise and lower a metal ring around the pole. The guide strings would be attached to the metal ring, raised to the top of the pole and the other end of the string attached to the ground forming a Tee Pee shaped structure. When the hops are ripe I would lower the ropes holding the metal ring and pick the hops from the ground with out having to use a ladder. Here is where I need some help, I have room to plant between 10 to 12 plants around the pole, If I plant different varieties will they cross pollinate and mess up the flavor? I would like to plant maybe 4 different kinds of hops, but I am reading that with the Tee Pee set up you should only plant one type. Has any body had any 1st hand experience with growing hops? Is cross pollination a problem? Is there any way around the problem? I was thinking about planting a 25 ft pole, hops are generally grown on 18 ft poles, will the extra height as well as the growing angle help stop the problems? Any help is appreciated.
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby DrewInToledo » Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:36 pm

Hey buddy. I dont think youll need to worry about cross pollination unless you have male plants. I have 4 plants growing around an antenna tower and havent noticed any problems. Theyre all different species. As i understand, the male plants will produce seed, of which i have seen none. If you have bought the hops online or elsewhere, chances are that you purchased female rhizomes.

I found them very easy to grow. I just stuck them in the ground and forgot about them. I havent noticed any mold or mildew but they are out in an area where they get lots on ventillation. You may find the same luck.

Hey, send my your address in a message if youd like. I have a gift for your son to pass along.
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby mannytheseacow » Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:28 am

Drew is right guy, they are pretty simple. I've had good luck with willamette and nugget varieties. You might get some mold issues with the cascade variety in your area. The galena variety is super hardy and a good producer but I think it tastes awful! Your biggest challenge will be drying them properly without destroying the delicate oils.
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:18 pm

Thanks Drew and Mammy. This is all new to me. As far as Beer goes I am more of a Coors Lite kind of guy, very dark or hoppy beers are not really my style. :lol: But since the Boy is doing it I felt like I could help him along a bit. Besides its great to be able to brag that you use Locally Grown Organic Hops in your brew. Cascade is one type that I know he uses a lot, he will tell me what else he wants to plant and how many of each. Low producing , bad tasting types, that are hard to grow will be at the top of his list I am sure. ;) :lol:
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:49 am

My son sent me a manual about growing hops but I can't get it posted here. sorry :o
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:18 pm

Here is a video showing more or less the type of trellis I was thinking about using. I did not plan on using the extension pipes from the top. I was just planning on a metal ring to tie the twine to that could be lowered in the same way as his for picking or maintenance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWvhDloJ0-A

From what I am reading I may be a bit aggressive on the number of rhizomes I was thinking about planting. I figured I could get 9 or 10 plants around my 12 foot diameter space, It seems that 4 or 5 plants will produce all the hops my son will need. How many plants are you guys growing, and how much beer do you brew each year? If I have an excess I guess I could try and sell it to our local brewer [ Hell Town Brew in Mt Pleasant ] or try to market them to other home brewers in the area. Some how having locally grow organic hops in your beer seems like something you could brag about to your friends. Even if it was only a small amount of the total hops in the beer, it seems like it would still give you Bragging rights for your beer. 8-)
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby mannytheseacow » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:21 am

You're probably right, Guy. 4 or 5 around a trellis is probably good. That will yield a lot of hops too. I had three at one point and don't have any anymore. It's really hard to dry them and preserve the oils in them properly.

Don't get me wrong, I grow as much of my own food and stuff as I can, but one thing I don't mess around with is compromising the quality of my beer! :lol: I can't grow hops like they can in the Yakima valley, and for $1.50 an ounce, I'll buy the good stuff. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles. Being married, I'm sure you know that! :? :lol:

Not that you can't grow some good stuff, in fact, go for it!
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby mannytheseacow » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:23 am

Guy, I was chatting with a friend of mine today about growing hops and he reminded me of a large batch of beer he made a few years back with homegrown Willamette's. He just had a string tied to his TV antenna tower outside with a single vine climbing it. I clearly remember drinking a lot of that beer with him, and it was excellent! I don't know how I forgot. :roll: :oops:
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:40 pm

Talked with my son and he agreed that 4 plants would be fine. I do not want to grow enough to sell, and with 4 plants I think we will have enough to share with his friends who brew.
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Re: Growing Hops at Home

Postby DrewInToledo » Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:24 pm

Guy, something to keep in mind... If you have a dog, make sure you keep it away from your hops. If ingested, they will kill the dog. Hops induce hypothermia in canines and they will fail. Please be careful if you have one.
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