Author Topic: New information about growing hops  (Read 4004 times)


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New information about growing hops
« on: February 06, 2008, 01:52:15 PM »
For those who grow hops or are considering it, I have a couple of bits of information that you should find interesting.

First, most homegrowers have no idea of what the alpha acid content of their hops is; I've done a LOT of searching and reading in a LOT of forums, and up until now the universal concensus was that you have only four practical choices:
1. Spend money (about $40 in the U.S. IIRC) to have a lab test it;
2. Do a comparative taste test which could be tedious and inaccurate;
3. Use homegrown hops only for flavor or aroma, so AA% won't matter;
4. Trial and error: just brew with it and adjust future batches.
Now I have come across a new approach that I hadn't read nor heard about anywhere; doing your own chemical test.  I've just been engaged in a discussion on the Usenet group rec.crafts.brewing and another brewer mentioned that he titrates his hops to determine their AA content, and has provided some valuable info for anyone interested in doing that. Here is the Google display of that thread: -- see the four posts beginning with one by wpollitz on Feb. 4th at 12:01am and my replies.  Also, this apparently isn't actually a new method -- just new to _ME_; you can do a google of 'titrate AND hops' and find other sources of info.

Second, for those who have never heard of 'vernalization', it's a process which signals the hop plant that it has been through the winter season, and is supposed to affect the amount of flowering (cones) that your plants will produce.  Some growers in the southern U.S. have had some poor harvests which we suspect might be tied to the lack of vernalization.  This website -- -- states that "The concensus among hop researchers is that hops need about six weeks of vernalization at 3 degrees C (about 38 degrees F)." Now, my weather has been too mild -- it was 78F/25.5C on February 4th and 69F/20.5C on February 5th -- and that's the middle of winter here.  As an experiment, I dug up one of my hop crowns and have put it into my beer refrigerator where I will keep it for six weeks and then replant it, and I'll then compare the harvest I get from it and the other plants.  If anyone else has done anything similar, or has more info about vernalization, I'll appreciate hearing about it.

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Bill Velek