Picking homegrown hops

End of summer is the time of year to pick homegrown hops.

I picked hops this morning, some people will freeze the hops right away.  Other people will dry the hops and save the hops for later.

I’ve tried both methods.  Freezing is easier but drying adds more flavor.  The third option is to brew with the hops right way.


When picking hops, I either use scissors or pull the hop buds off like grapes.  I think of the process similar to pulling off grapes, but hops are soft and leafy.



It is important to look at the hops you are picking and be picky.  If a hop looks funny or has mold growing on it, throw it out.



I do compost bad hops and used barley and hops.  The compost is great for the flower beds.





Buying Bulk grain

I buy bulk grain like many homebrewers.  Why? In the long run it’s cheaper.

Take this for example, buying grain by the pound at my local home brew shop is $1.60 and that’s a good price.

I bought a 55 lbs. bag of Best malz (German) for $65.  Let’s break down the math.  65/55 = $1.18 a pound That’s $0.42 a pound cheaper.  For one pound… so what, but for all 55 pounds that’s a savings of $23.10.

When I order a bag of grain from my local home brew shop keep in mind they have to order the grain then.  So don’t expect to pick up the grain when you decide to get it.  I usually order when I’m a month or more out from needing it.

Buying grain in bulk to to save money is great, but there is a things to watch out for.  Mainly Weevils.

Weevils eggs are on most any grain you buy in bulk, rice, wheat, barley, or even flour.

Weevils will destroy and eat your barley, but there is an easy way to kill them.


In a home brew club meeting a member spoke  and said “I just brew the weevils, it provides extra protein.” Everyone laughed, but later on I was curious if he was joking or not.

How I deal with weevils is a bit of work, but it solves the problem.  I use a food processor I bought at a local big box store.  I make my own 2 pound bags of grain and use the food processor to suck all of the air out of the bags.  On top of that I put the bags in my freezer for at least a month.  Freezing the grains kills any eggs.  The freezing method works for rice as well.  I buy rice at an international grocery store for around a quarter a pound.

After I take the barley out of the freezer I put the grain in a large cooler in my basement.  Anytime I need grain, I open the cooler and grind up the malt.

I know other guys that just separate their grain into multiple garbage bags and keep everything at room temperature. The multiple garbage bags is for if one bag gets infected with weevils, you still have more grain hopefully not infected.  This is an option for people that are not as lucky as me to have a stand alone freezer.



Grow your own hops

Growing hops is easy.  Anyway in Ohio it is.


I happened to look out my window and saw hop buds already growing.


Hops are easy in my climate to grow.  Hops requires warm days, but not to hot.  Too hot of temperatures will kill the roots, the problem many hop growers have in the deep south.  Hops drink a lot of water.  For hops to do well in your area either live somewhere with a lot of moisture or plan on watering your plants a lot.  The only thing I have to do is spray some kind of plant fertilizer once a summer on my plants.

This is the forth summer I think I’ve grown hops.  The first summer your grow hop do not expect to get any hop cones.  If you get a vine as tall as you, that’s doing good.  Hops need to grow straight up, some guys use twine, or rope.  I built a 10 foot high trellis.  My hops have already overtaken the whole trellis.

Another thing to keep in mind is hops likes to spread, very aggressively.  Hops needs to be contained.  I put my hops in a garden box, it’s work until this year.  My hops is trying to escape.

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As you can see my hops has grown out of the bottom of the garden box and up the fence.

I will have to trim that vine back.  Speaking of trimming, it’s best to lets the vines grow up and keep the best and strongest vines.  Hops will require trimming several times a season.  I just use regular scissors to cut unwanted vines.


When you do harvest your hops in fall you can either brew with them right away (wet hopping) or dry them.  Some guys left the hops sit in their garage on a window screen for a few days to let them dry out.  I put the hops in my food dehydrator on the herb setting. It’s below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.   I’ve had good luck with this.

Last thing is do not expect home grown hops to be what you buy.  Home grown hops have no where near the hop oils and as strong as flavors.  I use my home grown hops as flavor hops in the last 5 minutes of a boil.

I’ll do another post when I pick some hops.

I keep some hops in my freezer all winter from my vines last summer and i used them in my Blonde ale last 5 minutes.
Single Hop Recipes at