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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fraiche Hops

I have had hop bines in my backyard for a few years now, but have only used the hops in brewing once.  No reason, just lazy.  This year I decided to at least pick the things off the bines, in hopes that would force me to use them.  As it happens, I was planning on brewing anyway, so for the first time in four years, I have homegrown hops to brew with.

The question is, "What is a good hop and what is a bad hop?".  I have noticed that on my bines, I have cones that are large and many more that are small.  Some are bright green, others are almost parchment-like in color.  Are these bad?  I have no idea, but I think I'd rather dump them, just to be on the safe side.

On the left are the hops I think are best - they are solid green all around, not super wet (damp), and smell like hops.  The ones on the right are papery in color, the leaves are opening, and are small and not really firm.

I went through my pile and pulled the white ones out entirely.  Was this needed?  I have no idea, but it sure made me feel better.  And I think that some of the things we do as homebrewers are simply to make us feel better.  More like commercial brewers.  I mean, now I can relate when I talk to a pro brewer about "hand selecting my hops".  Besides just pulling the packet from the shelf.  

The beer I'm brewing today is the "Hop Grenade" Pale Ale that I made with Rodger Davis over at Triple Rock.  It's a hoppy, West Coast session ale (1.044 SG, 52 IBU's), and I really enjoy it.  I want to add my wet hops to the flavor portion, but the bag they are in is just smelling like pine resin right now, and I'm not sure I need that in my beer.  I just don't know what to do about it. 

In the end I decided to add two ounces with 20 min left in the boil, then another two ounces with 5 min left.  This is in addition to my regular hop schedule.  The way I see it, my homegrown hops have such a small amount of Alpha Acids that it won't really affect my IBU's, it's more for flavor than anything. 

Here are some pics of the fresh hops:

I forgot that I don't have a screen in my boil kettle, so I had to fish out the majority of the whole hops before starting my cooling cycle ... DOH!

In the end, the beer came out a few points under, and looking like green soup.  Should be interesting.



  1. So 4 oz total in a 10 gallon batch? This will be my first year using my fresh hops, and I'm already feeling a little anxious over not knowing how much to use...

  2. Jacoby,
    Relax and have a home brew.

    Hoppy session ale. Exciting brew day. Let us know how it finishes out.

  3. Looks good. What variety were they? My first attempt at hop growing (this year) started well and then promptly died. Fingers crossed the Rhizome survived and will make another go of it next year.


  4. I want to try some!!! Let me know when it's ready!
    Paul Brown

  5. some nice looking cones there JP, and I think that individually selecting each hop cone for the beer makes it more bespoke, kind of like a John West add "its the cones JP rejects that make Hop grenade the best"

  6. Thanks guys. I only used 4 ounces because I didn't plan my recipe out for using any more, if that makes sense. I was afraid that I would ruin the beer, somehow. Jacob - There are a few good shows in the BN Archives on wet hops and how much to use. I used 4oz because I was getting plenty of bitterness and flavor/aroma from pellet hops. So depending on how many ounces you have will depend on how many to use in your beer.