Friday, July 4, 2014

Hop Gardening

I expanded the garden this year with the intent of adding an interesting plant that I haven't grown before: hops. I'm sure most of you know hops are a critical component to brewing beer. At first I was nervous because all you have to start the process is a piece of root, known as a rhizome. Each piece can typically cost anywhere from $4 to $8 so I was hoping it wouldn't be wasted money. The wonderful internet informed me that several types aren't too hard to grow so I dove in. Apparently this region was once a hotspot for growing hops. In March I picked up five different hop rhizome varieties from a nursery in Oregon. The varieties included Northern Brewer, Fuggle, Cascade, Kent Golding and Mt. Hood. I'm pleased to say they are all growing pretty well at this point with some plants being several feet long already though apparently they don't produce many hop flowers until their second year of growth. Did you know a hop "bine" can grow up to 12" in a single day? I'll hopefully get enough flowers at the end of the year to at least brew a batch of stout or maybe a porter. Who knows, maybe in a couple years I'll become a hop farmer and supply our great sponsor over at Morgantown Brewing Company with some hops to brew up their tasty brews. I love their coffee porter! Next year I hope to try growing a little barley and/or wheat to malt. Ultimately I'd like to create my very own true Mt. Morris home brew with every ingredient grown right at home.