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Old 02-01-2014, 06:50 PM   #1
-Liam-
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Default Hop identification query

A colleague at work told me yesterday that he has hops that grow in his garden/plot and invited me to come over and take some when they are ready to be picked. This got me pretty excited. The only thing is that he has no idea what kind of hops they are, and I being a completely nooby to brewing would have no way to tell either! So how would I go about identifying them for the correct usage in a future brewing session?



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Old 02-02-2014, 02:44 PM   #2
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Anyone?



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Old 02-02-2014, 04:03 PM   #3
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Im not sure how to identify hops, but without knowing what they are make something simple and use them for your late hop, use something you know for the bittering charge.

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Old 02-02-2014, 04:56 PM   #4
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Do a taste test. Make up a one gallon wort with light DME about 1.047 OG. Add some hops equivalent to the amount used for bittering a pale ale.

I don't use leaf hops so can't say whether they need to be dried or can be used green and moist.

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Old 02-02-2014, 06:50 PM   #5
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If you are in a hop growing region, I would contact your agriculture extension department. They might have someone that deals with hops and could help. They are often associated with a state university that does agriculture. Otherwise you might be able to contact someone at one of the universities in a hop growing state (for example, Oregon State University) and see if they could help based on pictures or even sending them a sample. They probably would want both the leaves and cones.

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Old 02-02-2014, 07:12 PM   #6
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I have also read that there are ornamental hops for gardening that are really no good for brewing with. I could be wrong though.

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Old 02-03-2014, 01:03 PM   #7
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If brewers hops most likely cascade (probably the most common american hop variety) I wouldn't know how to determine them otherwise other than smell or flavor imparted. Might as well brew a Mystery Hop Pale Ale

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Old 02-03-2014, 01:10 PM   #8
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I've heard the same about ornamental hops. But they could also be wild hops, which would work for brewing, but would be unpredictable. Heck, they could even be a cross-variety with any number of possible lineages. The first thing I would do is ask your colleague what the origin is. If they're a commercial or wild variety, you're probably okay. If they're ornamental, I wouldn't be discouraged. Maybe you can find some growing somewhere else.

If they're not ornamental, get a hold of the cones and give them a touch/taste/smell test. You could even buy some hops from your LHBS and take them with you for comparison. You're going to want them to have a similar spicy, floral, herbal, etc quality. Some wild hops lack the alpha acids to make them really suitable, but, even if they seem mild, you could try them or even use them in combination with some other variety. Making a mini batch, as flars suggested, to test them is a great idea. You can pitch them in fresh picked. If you're not going to use them right away, you should freeze them.

I actually really want to try brewing with wild hops. A friend of mine is a botanist, and I'm looking forward to trying to find some wild hops to work with this summer. To me, it sounds like you have a great adventure under way. Let me know how it goes.



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