5 Tips on Growing Hops for Craft Beer Enthusiasts

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The craft beer industry is on a rise. After all, who wouldn’t want to have an alcoholic drink with a distinct identity? From the name to the taste, they’ve piqued the interest of beer enthusiasts. Craft beers are created by small and independent brewers.

This is where creativity meets demand as brewers always go for quality rather than quantity. So if you want to start creating your own artisanal beer, we’ve got some tips for you. Here, we have a guide to the world of growing hops – the stabilizing agents that provide the flavor of your favorite craft beers.

1) Acquire the Right Variety

Not all hops are the same, so you have to choose wisely. Hops typically grow well in rich and well-draining soil. In addition, you have to assess the USDA zone you are in and whether your area experiences a lot of frosts. If you do live in a temperate region, you’ll have many varieties to choose from to suit your garden.

A lot of hop varieties are available at an affordable price. In fact, there are local extension offices that will gladly give out hops at no cost. However, there are hop varieties that are currently unavailable due to sheer demand. If this is the case, you need to discuss with your extension agent and get yourself on the waitlist.

2) Grow Hops in Spring

The ideal season to grow your hops is in spring. Specifically, you must have hops rhizomes in the early stage of spring. Rhizomes are what we refer to the foot-long root stems where the hops will grow. Now, ensure that your hops rhizomes have a 40-inch distance from each other and that they have a depth of several inches. Moreover, the small roots should point down for optimum growth.

3) Irrigation and Mulching

Irrigating the hops means will require using either a hose or a drip-irrigation system. The water shouldn’t just reach the leaves. Instead, the water should go down the roots. During the hot summer season or when the climate is fairly dry, you should regularly water the hops rhizomes. Still, remember not to overwater the hops rhizomes since they could rot. One process to prevent this involves soaking the rhizomes and then giving ample time for the soil surface to be dry before irrigating them again.

Likewise, the hops will have a small root system during its first year. Since the roots still need some time to be adequately established in the soil, constant moisture is necessary. Apart from watering the hops, you should also practice mulching to better preserve the moisture. This process should also stop weeds from immediately spreading in your lawn.

4) Fertilizing and Trellises

As for fertilizer application, you should only apply a small amount of it. If you use a lot of fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, plant growth will be fast but the alpha acid content of the hops will be reduced. A low alpha acid level will make it difficult to achieve a greatly bitter taste for your craft beer.

When the hop shoots have reached a foot in height, you can cut them and warp them clockwise around the trellis. A trellis is required since hop bines grow vertically and can be as long as 30 feet. From a sturdy rope to several poles, it’s up to you what you’ll use as a trellis to support the hop bines as long as they are strong enough.

Here’s a video showing how to build a trellis for hops:

5) Know the Harvest Period

In the middle of August or September, the hop cones should already be green with an aromatic scent. Moreover, the mature cones should feel dry upon touching them while also having a yellowish powder that stays on one’s fingers. Not all of your hop cones will mature at the same time, so you have to check every two days or so.

Harvest the hops can be done in a variety of ways: cutting the hop twins, pulling them with your hands, or using a machine. While it’s best to have fresh hops, even the dried and sealed cones will sustain their value for several years. On a related note, keep them away from sunlight when you dry the cones since sunlight exposure will damage the hops. The drying period should take a couple of weeks until you can seal the cones.

We hope that this guide helped you in growing your own hops. In time, you’ll be able to have your own craft beers. If you have any queries, do give us a comment.

by Ann Katelyn | sumogardener.com