Sunday, September 16, 2012

Storing fresh hops

After the hops are harvested two things need to be done:  drying them and storing them.
I'd heard about the simple process of laying the fresh hops out on a window screen in a dark room with a fan and that was easy for me.
So I put a spare window screen on a couple of sawhorses in the spare bedroom and spread out the hops on it.  I put a tower fan next to the screen to blow across the hop cones:
After 2 days the cones were dry enough and now needed to be packaged.  Fortunately we have a vacuum sealer thanks to Grandpa Dick so I was able to vacuum seal the dried hop cones in plastic bags for future use.
Ironically the beer I was to brew the next day, my Honey Basil Ale, made with homegrown hops and basil could have been made with fresh "wet" hops but I had dried the whole batch!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hop harvest!

I'd read that hops don't really produce much until the second year, however mine grew clear up the tall side of our house, about 30 feet, by August and produced a 5 gallon bucket of hop cones in September!
It's hard to know when to harvest but when it seemed right (when the cones are papery) I called upon my assistant brewers, Tristan and Sofia, to help me bring in the harvest.
First I cut down the twines on which the hop vines (called "bines") had grown and then separated the varieties of bines into separate bins.  I put them on a large sheet in the family room.
Then we went to work picking the cones off of the bines.  It's tedious work and the bines are prickly but Tristan and Sofia were real troopers.