What makes beer taste so good? It's the sweet malt combined with a mixture of different hops and herbs! Hops can be bitter, aromatic or both ("dual purpose"). Hops grow from rhizomes you plant in the spring and shoot up, covering almost 25 feet by the end of summer. Talk about positive reinforcement for your planting effort! Our hops rhizomes are female and will produce the flowers ("cones") used to brew beer. Before you harvest the flowers you can enjoy their fragrance as they're draped around your backyard. That hoppy perfume in the air will give new meaning to the expression "beer garden". In our video
, Tricia shows you the first steps in brewing beer (the later steps are coming soon in a sequel video). She uses a Deluxe Beermaking Kit, and a Cheesemaking Thermometer that clips to the side of the cooking pot. She bought the malt, grains, hops, and yeast from a local brewing supply store -- and she's growing her own
hops to use next year! Want to join Tricia in starting your own hop yard? Then keep reading!
Choose the Hops That Flavor Your Favorite Kind of Beer
Are you an India Pale Ale fan? Do you prefer Stout?
Narrow It Down by Your Climate & Growing Season
Hops are tolerant of a range of climates, but they do need consistent irrigation, especially in hot, dry summers. The Oregon Hops Commission
has quite a bit to say about the ideal climate for hops: A minimum of 120 frost free days are needed for flowering. Direct sunlight and long day length (15 hours or more) is also needed. As a consequence of day length and season length, hop production is limited to latitudes between 35 and 55 degrees. The hop plant requires ample moisture in the spring followed by warm summer weather. In dry climates the hop plant will produce best if supplemental irrigation is provided. Hop Varieties for All Climates
Cascade Centennial Mount Hood Nugget Willamette Hop Varieties that are Best in Mild Climates (But Can Grow in Warm Climates)
Golding Liberty Growing Season
Do you live in Minnesota with a short growing season? Choose hops that are ready for harvest in early to midseason. Most hops have that harvest time, so they can be raised successfully in many regions. If you have the luxury of a long growing season, go ahead and add hops that are late harvest.
Give Your Hops Bine Something to Climb
Hops thrive when they have something to climb. While commonly called vines
, hops plants are actually bines
that grow by wrapping themselves around a support, instead of by producing tendrils. Our thick Hemp Twine is an ideal guide for the bine -- it's sturdy enough to support the bines as they grow (and grow) but it's also biodegradable -- that's handy come harvest time, when you'll want to cut down the hops bines in one fell swoop, instead of picking the flowers one-by-one.
Hops Are a Wonder for Edible Landscaping
"Grow this vine for the ornamental power it wields. ... And then there are the green flowers -- hanging papery lanterns of chartreuse bracts that flutter in the wind. Be still my beating heart." Sounds like the author of The Edible Front Yard
likes growing hops! Do you have an arbor or pergola where you'd like shade in the summer? Plant hops in the spring and they'll zoom up and give you summer shade -- and
even if you don't harvest them for brewing, they'll die back in the autumn to let the winter sunshine in. Hops are almost invariably described as "vigorous", which is horticulture-speak for "stand back and watch this one take over!" If you don't
have an arbor or pergola, get out the hammer and nails and make a home for this easy grower. We give you details about cultivating hops in our Planting and Growing Guide
Herbs From Your Garden Make Unusual Homebrews
Hops are just one of the herbs that can be used in making beer. If you'd like to branch out to other herbs, these are suggested by the brothers who wrote The Homebrewer's Garden
: Bittering Herbs Horehound Sage Milk Thistle Yarrow Clary Sage Flavoring Herbs Hyssop Borage Lemon Balm Marjoram Thyme Aromatic Herbs Lavender Chamomile Bee Balm Elder flowers Rosemary
More Information About Homebrewing & Hops
The Homebrewer's Garden
is an outstanding resource book for the nuts and bolts of growing, harvesting, and using hops. Plus it has brewing recipes especially formulated for homegrown ingredients. If you're really into DIY then Building Homebrew Equipment
is your book! It teaches you how to construct a rolling carboy carrier, a carboy stand, immersion wort chillers, counterflow chillers, mash tuns, and keg systems. Grow organic hops and herbs, then create your own distinctive beer!