Who doesn’t love a lazy evening with a drink to relish in hand? To many beverage lovers, beer is like the source of newfound energy. Alas, the rising price of alcohol is cutting back the beer consumption from our daily lives. What if you land on a recipe that tells you about how to brew your own beer?
While most of the ingredients can be easily purchased from markets, finding the basic ingredient hops can be a hard nut to crack. But look at all those empty spaces in the garden! If you can’t find hops, you can grow hops! In this way, you can make your own beer and experiment with different flavors. Who knows one day you might become a proud owner of a beer line!
What are Hops?
Hops are flowers from the hemp family. The tiny and green flower is similar to a pine cone that grows only in the female Humulus Lupus. These flowers are rich in alpha-acids, oils, and aromatic resins. They come in a dozen varieties and are best for concocting new flavors and aromas. The flowers themselves come with a bitter taste but are capable of creating exotic beer flavors.
Why Do We Need Hops?
Yes, it’s pretty challenging to grow hops, but these are the best add-ons for a well-balanced beer. Hops counter the sweetness from the beer constituent malt with its bitterness and tot up a savor smack in your beer. Hops also function in preserving the beer for a long time. These flowers are rich in anti-bacterial properties and hence are used for various medicinal purposes.
Are Hops Easy to Grow?
Growing these perennial plants may seem challenging, but once you have grasped the process, it gets simple. As long as your garden has sufficient sunlight and space, Hops can grow pretty fast. Who is ready to grow Hops? Let’s get started!
Choose the Hop Variety you want to grow:
Like we said before, there are dozens of hop variety available. You can prefer your type based on the flavor, body, and aroma. For the best beer quality, you can choose Cascade or Centennial hops. Now that you’ve chosen your preferred type, run to the nearest retailer for the hop rhizomes.
The Best Time for Growing Hops
To understand how to grow hops better, you should know when it’s best to grow them. The best time for planting baby hops is from March-April. Depending on your area, when the winter shadow has passed, hops are ready to be sown. Once the rhizomes have arrived in your place, slightly moisten them. Too much wetness results in rhizome collapse. Store the baby hops in a refrigerator or a cool, dark place till they are planted. Hops grow the best in moderate climates.
Choosing a Location
Hops have Helophilia i.e. the love for the sun! Ensure a place where there is plenty of sunlight. Hops can grow up to 25-feet vertically, so you need a spot like that. The soil content should be rich, and must always be prepped with nitrogenous fertilizers. This location will become the permanent abode for hops as the plants will be back after a year from their harvest. It’s best to choose a south-side direction as hops need about 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.
Planting the Rhizomes
When the ground has softened, it’s time you start planting the little hop babies. The soil must be aerated and having proper drainage. Place the hops horizontally and bury them at least 4-12 inches deep in the soil. Keep a gap of about 3 feet while planting rhizomes of the same variety. For different species, the gaps should be increased to 6-feet. After the plantation, cover with a nitrogen mulch or lightly crammed soil.
Watering the Rhizomes
To maintain proper growth, regular watering must be ensured. Your target should be providing sufficient water to establish roots. Too much water on the rhizomes will turn them soggy and result in untimed death. Hops require about 700-800 mm water. Once the shoots are visible, the hop growth can get uncontrolled. Abnormal growth is a regular phenomenon for hop plants!
Hops grow by their bines vertically. The bines require support as they don’t have a strong base. The supporting options include poles, string, lattice, or bamboo. The most effective option is supporting your hops with twine that backs up the hop bines firmly. As the hops reach 6-12 inches, trim them up. Then start stringing them, taking 2-3 bines in a tie. The stringing should be done in a clockwise manner. Otherwise, the lovely hops will fall off.
Harvesting the Hops
At the end of summer, the hop flowers get light green with a crispy touch. This is the harvesting sign coming from hop plants. Depending on the stringing, the harvesting method differs. If you are using a twine, cut off the twines, and place the bines flatly. Then remove the cones with caution. If you are using a lattice, just pluck the flowers from the plant. For promoting healthy growth next season, cut down the bines by 1 foot.
Drying the Hop Cones
The freshly cut hop cones can be used for immediate brewing. But if you plan to save them for later, it’s best to dry off the cones. You can use a food dryer for this purpose. The perfectly dried hops should be papery, brittle, and snapped when bent. The best place to dry out hop cones is the pretty hot garage, but out of the sun’s ray. You can also choose air filters, window screens, or chicken wires.
Now that you know how to grow hops, you should also know that hops can’t be grown all year, so it’s best to store them! Vacuum seal the hop cones to avoid oxidation and freeze them for preservation. Hops that are well-stored can last up to a year unless you are one of the brewing addicts.
There you go with the hop growing process. What are you waiting for? The next beer pong is going to be at your place!