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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * January 9, 2004 * Is the hop seed on ebay fit for use in brewing? < Previous Next >

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Kevin Davis (67.233.12.236)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 01:46 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There is a hop seed on ebay that I was wanting to know if it is worth trying to raise, but I was unfamilar with the name, however I am new to brewing so I do not know scientific names vs common names. Has anyone seen this and is it usable? Also I have seen some hops growing wild near my house (in KY) would this be worth gathering to use and what might it be? Please remember I am totally new to brewing, so I feel no question is a stupid question. Thanks.
Kevin
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 01:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hops grow best from rhizomes (basically a tuberous root). These are available from homebrew suppliers in the early spring. They can be planted when the frost is out of the ground, likely about April 1 in your location.

The hops that are found wild are most likely Clusters, which accounted for 98 percent of the US hop crop until very recently. These are adequate for bittering but do not have a particularly pleasant aroma for use as late additions.

With homegrown hops it's very difficult to know the alpha acid levels, which makes them problematic when trying to calculate bittering for your beer.
 

danno (63.224.226.20)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 02:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do not buy hops seeds. The plant can grow to either a female or male. The male plant have seeds, lowering the AA% per unit weight. Worse is that they can cause female plants to become male IIRC.

Rhizomes always come from female plants (in the US anyway). I wonder why so many of the UK hops I get are from male plants?
 

Kevin Davis (67.233.12.90)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 02:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wow you guys have lost me I thought the female produced the seed in most plants. However I've noticed anything on ebay that had anything to do with brewing sells higher than it could be bought at a brewing store, and nobody is buying the hop seed.
Kevin
 

Jared Cook (24.1.247.22)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 03:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The problem with male plants is that they fertilize the females. If the female is fertilized, then it will produce seeds and produce less of the hop resins. Same thing with the hop's cousin, canabis.
 

Bob B (24.65.49.219)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 06:44 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Okay little botany lesson here...

Rhizomes are not tuberous roots but lateral growing underground stems. One of the key distinguishing characteristics of rhizomes is the presence of nodes where new stem or leaf buds form and grow. Tuberous roots are fleshy roots and as with all roots, lack nodes and internodes (the area between nodes). Examples of rhizome producing plants besides hops include kentucky bluegrass and iris flowers.

The male part of a flower does not produce seed but pollen containing half the genetic information that will comprise the new plant. A plant seed is a fertilized and mature ovule containing an embryonic plant.

Hops are dioecious where the male and female incomplete flowers are on separate plants. Hollies, ginkgo and palms are other examples. With hollies in a landscape situation, the female is the more desirable due to it's red berries in fall and winter. However, female ginkgos are avoided due to a very smelly yellow fruit that some describe as similar to a "wet goat". To maintain a particular male or female plant for it's desirable characteristics, dioecious plants are vegetatively propagated. In the case of hops, it's with rhizome cuttings. Hollies and ginkgos usually involve rooting stem cuttings.

Quiz tomorrow...
 

Hophead (167.4.1.38)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 05:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"It's not a tuber..."

Thanks Bob, good stuff.

Kevin, if you want to give it a try, the best results as mentioned are from rhizomes which are widely available in the spring. It's a 3-4" piece of a hop stem that you bury, water, and pray for offshoots to appear (nodes per BB).
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 05:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I stand corrected, Bob. I will keep in mind the botanical distinction between tubers and rhizomes.
 

pat sullivan (165.66.68.247)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 07:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

is the hop plant a perennial? or do you have to repurchase the rhizomes each spring?
 

Denny Conn (63.114.138.2)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 07:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's perennial, Pat, and spreads like crazy!
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 07:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The vines die back in the winter (it's a good idea to remove the dead material) but new shoots appear in the spring. As Denny suggests, hops can grow like weeds, although you should not expect a lot of cones the first year and even the second year's crop is often not as good as the third.
 

Nate Poell (65.178.200.222)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 08:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is it acceptable to use male hop cones in beer. The reason I ask is that earlier this year, my dad found several wild hop plants. We collected several buckets full; many of the cones have seeds. I've brewed a couple batches of soda using these cones; there doesn't seem to be any "off" flavors. Any reason not to use them? Thanks.

-Nate
 

danno (63.224.226.20)
Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 09:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As I noted above, most of the UK hops I get are loaded with seeds. The AA% is accordingly adjusted since it is calculated by weight %.
 

Jared Cook (24.1.247.22)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 03:21 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Nate, there are no male hop cones. The cones that have seeds have just come into contact with the male's pollen.
 

Miker (63.247.195.9)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 03:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

More botany lessons:

Clusters are a variety of hops produced from a cross of the american common wild hop and an english hop variety, so you may have these growing "wild" near your house if they were once planted there by a farmer, but more likely you have real wild hops which are native to almost every state in the U.S. In that case you could have the variety lupulus (i.e. Humulus lupulus lupulus), or pubescens or lupuloides all of which are found in Kentucky.

Here in Colorado the common hop variety Humulus lupulus neomexicanus grows wild in moist areas.

Also, the hop "vine" is more properly called a bine.
 

Bill Pierce (24.141.63.119)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 04:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Interesting, Miker. Hops seem to be found frequently growing wild along old railroad right of way. The story I have heard is that hops on their way to the breweries fell off railroad cars and grew from seed. Are you suggesting that they are the native wild variety and not from cultured hops that fell off the trains?
 

Walt Fischer (24.221.196.114)
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2003 - 07:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wait till about March.. then go here and get some rhizomes...


http://www.freshops.com
Plant in ground in mid April, water everyday, then stand back n watch.. these babies will grow a foot a day once they get going :)
Expect a 10-20 foot tall plant...
But dont expect much hops in the first year... years 2 and 3 will start kicking butt :)
There is a great info in growing em there too..

Walt
 

Miker (63.247.195.9)
Posted on Monday, December 22, 2003 - 11:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill,
I don't know about the hops growing along railroad right-of-ways. Around here (where its much drier than those of you to the east), wild hops are almost always found near streams, creeks or rivers. It seems to me that if someone finds hops growing in their area that they are most likely wild and not feral (I know this can't possibly be the correct botanical term) hops, but railroad right-of-ways could be an exception.
Wild hops are not that uncommon.
 

Kevin Davis (67.233.12.163)
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 02:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

But would a wild hops be usable or would you just have to try it to find out?
Kevin
 

chumley (63.227.169.156)
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - 05:35 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sure they would be useable, sayeth me, a staunch defender of Cluster. Problem is, you have no control over them as you have no idea of their AAUs. Then you would have to add a boat load of them, and probably end up disappointed over the harsh bitterness (my guesstimate: 20%), the blandness (guestimate again: 79%), or exclaim its the best beer you ever brewed (1%).

Here in Montana, hops are commonplace growing around ghost towns, but not anywhere else. Which makes me think they are strictly an introduced species here.

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