Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Looking for a few good hop growers

...actually, I'm looking for a whole bunch, preferably from an array of climate zones. There's a shortage of hops this year, one that will hit craft- (over 15,000 barrels per year) and microbrewers (fewer than 15,000 barrels per year) hard, and homebrewers the hardest. Maltose Express in Connecticut, where I went on Christmas Eve for a much needed stock-up, has had to impose a strict 4-oz. per customer limit, and is frankly out of the more popular varieties. In the coming batches, I'll be substituting Challenger for Yakima Magnum hops, Hallertau for Northern Brewer, and Willamette for almost everything. I'm not really that much of a hop-head (that Bust article I mentioned recently claimed that aggressively hopped beers are more of a guy thing than an American thing per se), but there's no getting around the fact that they are a key ingredient. According to uber brewgeek Ray Daniels,
(Hops) provide bitterness to counteract the sweetness of malt, thus making the beverage more palatable. They also provide some antibacterial properties that at one time increased the safety and potability of beer. Today this quality still aids in the preservation of beer....Hops contribute to head stabilization...(as well as to) appealing flavors and aromas.
Most recipes call for the addition of high alpha acid varieties, also referred to as bittering hops, at the beginning of the one-hour boil to establish the basic sweet/bitter balance of the brew; medium alpha acid varieties, or flavoring hops, about 15 minutes before the end of the boil to contribute to the beer's distinctive flavor profile; and medium-to-low alpha acid varieties, or aroma hops, in the last couple of minutes. Aroma hops can also be tossed in dry and allowed to soak for a week or more as the yeast ferments the wort. This technique is called dry-hopping and produces particularly pungent aromas. Using different varieties and strengths of hops and adding them at different times layers their impact and plays a key role in a beer's complexity.

Anyhow, that's why I need them--and while hop vines are reportedly quite hardy, their root systems are necessarily too big for me to try to grow them in planters on our fire escape. That's where you come in. If you have a fence, trellis, or pole and a place in your garden that gets at least a couple of hours of sun per day, have I got some rhizomes for you. Or more precisely, if you have a good heart and that sunny patch and are someone whom I know, drop me a line and I'll see to it that some suitable plants are delivered to your door in early spring. Some growing tips here. We'll figure out how to ship the cones later.

P.S. I'm serious.

4 comments:

Cascadia said...

Hi,

I have a small farm southeast of Tacoma, Washington near Mt. Rainier. I have been looking into custom growing hops for home brewers. I am not a brewer myself, but enjoy growing things. This used to be a prominent hop growing area, but unfortunately development has taken its toll. What variety of hops do home brewers prefer? I am interested in your offer. Please email me directly at:
Ap-Adam@worldnet.att.net

Cascadia

Anonymous said...

Hi,

If anyone is interested, I have a large selection of hop poles. I live in the mid-willamette valley if your interested contact me at
fourangells@aol.com thanks

mark said...

I live in Tn. and have grown fuggles with good luck. I'll grow a few plants if you provide the rhizomes. I'll give you 50 % of the yeld. Contact me at markleazure@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am in the process of planting 3-4acres to start. I'm looking to supply home brewers with a superior fresher product. Planting what I can get my paws on in the next few months. I need all the help I can get!!!!!!!!!!!!
Take pity on a beginner and I'll return the favor all I can!
Brandi Czaja
Butt Head Farms
Vequita NM
brandiczaja@yahoo.com