My friends Curtis and Julie have hop bines in their backyard. They have never harvested them so they let me! After work today I came over with some giant ziplock bags and filled four. I wasn’t able to reach most of them, but there were plenty for my purposes.
One of the challenges I have now is identifying the variety of hop. It could be anyone of the 80 or so varieties used in brewing beer. Or it might be some other kind. I hope to identify it by comparing the leaf and the shape/patterns of the hop itself against photos online. I can’t track down a comprehensive file however, so this may not be easily achieved.
I’d like to know the kind because every hop has a distinct alpha acid intensity (measured in %). Before I use it to bitter a brew, I’d like to know how much to add.
Another challenge will be storage. I’ve only ever dealt with processed hop pellets in vacuum sealed, refrigerated bags. These little guys can rot if they aren’t dried then kept cool in vacuum sealed bags. I whirled them in a salad spinner to rid my crop from little bugs. All my gear turned a bit sticky from the resins.
These hops have a strong green aroma – grassy, unripe. They have a papery texture and they certainly don’t look like they would last much longer on the bine, so I am pretty sure they were ripe. I think the leaf is emitting a stronger aroma than the trapped oils and resins can for now. We’ll see how they make the beer taste.
So, there they are – about 1 kg of hops. Or enough hops to make 1000 bottles of beer*.