Barley Mowat 

Wet Hopping The Ground

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Phew, the blogeria smells a bit dusty. Sorry for the lack of Chuck lovin’ here recently, folk, but it’s summer. With summer comes patio weather. With patio weather comes Chuck on a patio drinking good beer and, hence, not blogging. And no snark from you wisecrackers about the weather. Look at a calendar. It’s summer, dammit, and I’m drinking my beer outside. Also, I seem to have had a spate of colds for some completely unrelated reason.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand: hops. As any good brewer knows or–for that matter–anyone literate enough to read a beer label (or in Driftwood’s case, see the purty pictures), hops are 25% of what makes beer awesome. In fact, they might very well be my favourite quarter-beer. Sure, barley, yeast and water are vital ingredients, but nothing else makes beer quite so… hoppy.

Thus, I’m fairly excited about Camra’s upcoming Fest of Ale Hop Edition. To celebrate, I traveled back in time to early spring and planted some hops. Or, rather, whined about it until Sharon did all the hard work.

We ordered a selection of new & old world hops from Left Fields, better known as The Hop Field Behind Crannóg Ales. They were kind enough to send us duplicates, so into the ground went two rhizomes each of centennial, chinook, zeus and fuggle. If you’re curious about growing hops, drop them a line. They deal with commercial growers mostly, but as I found out, no order is too small.

Pro hop grower tip: don’t order a bunch of plant-stuffed baggies to your place of employment.

It turns out that you don’t need a lot of space for hops (at least horizontal space). In this case, we repurposed some of Shar’s old veg planters on her balcony for hoppy goodness. They should be a good foot deep (at least), as hops are a root intensive plant, but honestly they’re a lot less picky than I’d feared. Within a week or so of planting, young vines had broken the surface and were straining upwards.

Move towards the light.

One thing no one really mentioned, though: these things move fast. In fact, I spent last Saturday hanging out on Shar’s couch and I swear I could actually see them grow, in real time. Given that they both tracked the sun and lengthen a good 8 inches that day, I might very well have done just that.

After just a few weeks.
If you fall asleep next to one, you will not wake up.

I’m not planning on a massive harvest of these babies; just a nice bit of leafy greenness to fill out the railing, and maybe a cone or two to plop in my beer for some per-pint wet hopping. First off, it’s the first year, and hops spend most of their first season of energy building roots. Second, while they do look purty on the railing, it’s not really the optimal format for maximal yield. If fortune does smile upon me and I get a tub of green gold… well then, you’ll just have to wait and see what insanity my crooked brain has cropped up.

Written by chuck

July 21st, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Beer and You

2 Responses to 'Wet Hopping The Ground'

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  1. […] revealed previously, I have somehow managed to convince my girlfriend Sharon to devote a significant chunk of her very […]

  2. […] hell Blake feels like talking about. Today it’s growing hops for homebrew, a topic I briefly touched upon two years ago before giving up, letting Sharon do all the hard work, and never talking about the […]

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