Lonely Whole Hops

(The following post is all meant in good fun. I’m not really hostile about other brewers’ practices. :) )

 

I grow my own hops and have used them before. They’re Hallertau and great for making pilsners, harvest ales, beers where the hops can just be out of the way: fruit beers, spiced beers. I’ve written about whole hops on this blog before. I think I wasn’t kind.

That said, I’m calling out my fellow brewers who don’t say that whole hops are a pain in the ass. Who’s growing them, who’s harvesting them, who’s drying them, and who’s using them? (I know my dear friend Peter is using them and to great effect so feel free to comment, Peter, but I know you’re all over this ;) )

I think there is a secret that needs to be told and I’ve said it here on the other post: Hops are a pain in the ass AND nobody really wants to deal with that despite what brewers say. The number of times I offer up a free rhizome split and all the positive responses and then… Nothing. Same for picking your own… Well, one person came (in 10 years of offering).

“Free hops. Come and pick your own. Pick whatever you want and take them home and brew with them.” *crickets*

It’s okay, fellow brewers, you can say it and admit it freely here and you won’t be ostracized: Whole hops are a pain in the ass.

All together now…

 

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I'm a bass trombone player. I make beer. I take pictures. View all posts by It's what's on tap...

15 responses to “Lonely Whole Hops

  • Alan Brown

    Part of the issue for me is being prepared to use them “wet” right away. If I’m not ready to brew within 24 hours of picking then I need to dry them and freeze them pronto — again, a semi-major commitment in time. Then I forget they are in the freezer, re-discover them six months later, calculate the Hop Storage Index for them, figure out they only have about 10% of their AA left… Speaking of which, dang, I just remembered the bags of whole Goldings and Target hops down in the freezer since last fall.

  • It's what's on tap...

    Exactly. Yet another way of saying it. ;) I only use them wet now and on brew day straight from the bine to the kettle.

  • Peter Garner

    Maybe it’s a local thing. There’s been quite a lot of enthusiasm recently among the MontreAlers for growing and using homegrown hops. I personally take a lot of satisfaction in growing my own hops and using them to make—by several accounts—pretty good beer. And I don’t find picking, drying, and vacuum packing them a huge bother. If I didn’t want to be bothered, I’d buy my beer at a store. Also, with any luck, I’ll have about 3 extra lbs of hops in my freezer this fall. I could go on and on… (and I have) :)

    • It's what's on tap...

      Give it a year or so for the others. ;)

      There are a few levels/degrees between hop growing and buying your beer at a store. I’m not a huge fan of whole hops but I try not to buy my beer at a store.

      3 EXTRA lbs? Isn’t it just 3lbs? LOL

      • Peter Garner

        3 extra lbs that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Y’know, free hops. You of all people should get that!

      • Peter Garner

        Also, look at it from a non-brewer perspective: The difference between brewing your own beer and buying it at the store is only just slightly narrower than the difference between brewing your own beer, with homegrown hops, and buying it at the store. It’s a fairly big hassle either way. Growing, picking, drying and brewing with homegrown is, to my mind, only slightly more of a hassle. And dude, if you keep dissing whole hops, no more APA for you!

      • It's what's on tap...

        If you’re using the hops then they’re not “extra”, they’re just hops. ;)

        You play hard ball. No more APA? I may have to lay low for a bit.

  • mrhopsbeertalk

    Brewers turn down free hops? Confusing… that being said, I find whole leaf hops are best for aroma additions and in smaller quantities for dry hopping. Fresh, they are hands down the most pungent form of hop out there, but the fluid volume loss is riduculous/oz.

    • mrhopsbeertalk

      Brewers turn down free hops? Confusing… that being said, I find whole leaf hops are best for aroma additions and in smaller quantities for dry hopping. Fresh, they are hands down the most pungent form of hop out there, but the fluid volume loss is ridiculous/oz.

      • It's what's on tap...

        Yeah, that’s one of those trade off things: Fresh aroma, less beer. I love fresh aroma but whole leaf hops are a pain to dry hop in a carboy and don’t help much when transferring to keg. :(

  • kitchenr jon

    This is my first year growing hops, and I don’t anticipate a large harvest (if any, my plants are quite small still), but I imagine it will be similar to the trouble it takes me to malt my own barley and wheat (5 pounds of wheat was quite a bit of work, but contribute to a great hefeweizen!).
    For me it’s about being able to brew a beer with ingredients I grew or were grown locally. I like the idea of being connected to the source, which is why I was excited to get locally grown and malted barley and rye from Harvest Hops and Malt in Guelph. I care about quality and efficiency but also about source and the story. I want to brew a beer with terroir (or whatever the French wine folks cal it) and for that beer to be unique. I realize it may not be as easy but I’m always excited for ways to make my beer more local and original.
    However, I may be singing a different tune after I deal with these hops of mine….. I enjoyed this post and the comments too :)

    • It's what's on tap...

      Thanks for commenting!

      I’m similarly interested in local and was interested to see a recent post on the GRAB forum about HH&M in Guelph. I may try some at some point to see what it contributes to my beer.

      Let me know what tune you’re singing when you deal with your hops. ;)

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