This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
Our friend Ross grew hops at home, watch this video for a visual guide of the article below!
- Hop rhizome or hop plant
- Perforated steel angles*
- Decking screws*
- Steel cable*
- Corkscrew ground stakes*
*for making a trellis
Step 1: Procure a hop root, commonly known as a rhizome, or a young hop plant. Make sure your rhizome is cut from a mature female cone bearing plant. Certain hop varieties such as Amarillo, Citra, & Mosaic are not available for consumers to buy because they require a special license to grow. Our friend Ross (in the video above) was able to buy rhizomes for Cascade, Chinook, and Nugget hops.
Step 2: Plant hops in soil in a place that will get direct sunlight (at least 6hrs per day). Hops can be planted as early as February and as late as June, depending where you live. It's important to plant your hops after your last expected frost and in temps between 40°-70° F. Ross lives in Asheville, NC, so he planted his hops in late April.
Step 3: Water your hops daily. Hop roots need to be kept moist in order to grow. However, too much water will cause the roots to rot. Hops have extremely large root systems and need ample space to grow. Tip: Cover your root system with soil then straw or mulch to help trap in as much moisture as possible.
Step 4: Set up a trellis for your hop bines, something they can easily wrap around. Yes, bines not vines. Vines are unique in their ability to grow straight up flat surfaces. Hops are bines, meaning they wrap around structures in order to grow upwards. Ross used the materials listed above to make a trellis that can be lowered for harvest using a pulley. However, your trellis can be as simple as a piece of twine attached to the top of your house!
Step 5: Train your hops. Help your hop bines grow by taking early sprouts and wrapping them clockwise around your trellis.
Step 6: Trim and Maintain. At the start of the season, trim your weakest/smallest bines and keep 3 of your strongest bines. This will help promote vertical growth.
Step 7: Harvest! Hops can be harvested between the months of September and August. The following are signs your hops are ready to harvest.
- The cones become papery & dry to the touch
- The lupulin (pictured below) will become aromatic
- The color will change to almost brown
After harvesting, hops can either be added directly to the kettle or dried out to be used later. It's important to dry and preserve your hops directly after harvesting to avoid spoiling them (unless you plan on wet hopping). To dry hops, spread them out on a screen or flat surface in a dry area for 24 to 48 hours. Hops can also be placed in a food dehydrator for 12 hours at 140°. After drying your hops, place them in a vacuum sealed bag and freeze them.
We ended up using these hops in this Fresh Hop Saison Recipe.
Looking to make something non-alcoholic with your homegrown hops? Try out this hop water recipe, it's like soda water, but better!