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Old 11-12-2013, 11:28 AM   #1
compact007
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Default Hop disappointment

I'm somewhat disappointed with my wild hops. They seem to have no bitterness aspect to them, the two beers I made with them ( all wild hops I grew on my property) and they have call come out sweet. Is this normal for some hops?

I used 2.85 ounces for a 2.5 gallon batch and it's still sweet. Maybe I should just use them as flavor or aroma hops in the future and buy a different hop for bittering.

Any thoughts from the masters?

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Old 11-12-2013, 01:04 PM   #2
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How did you dry the hops? When did you add the hops to the recipe? Do you know what variety they are?

I've not grown hops myself, but I hear it's difficult to determine the bitterness contribution from home grown and wild hops. As you mention, I think you will have a better outcome using a clean bittering hop and using your wild hops for flavor and aroma.

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Old 11-12-2013, 02:22 PM   #3
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Just to save myself some typing, here's a post I recently put in a different thread asking why their homegrown hops didn't have the same bittering effect as commercial hops...

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Homegrown hops can be successfully used for bittering and can have the same "effect" as commercial grown hops provide you do everything correctly.

The first problem is that the typical homegrower harvests way too early. They look at the big, green cone and think "how beautiful". They can't wait to get it into a beer. The reality is that the alpha acids (bittering compounds) are some of the last things to develop in the cone. So if the cones are picked early, the oils and aroma may be there but the bittering isn't. When some of our growers jump the gun and harvest a week or two early, we see alpha's drop from an expected 6% to something like 1% for example. That little bit of time really matters.

The second problem is that home growers don't always dry to the same level as commercial growers. Commercial growers have to get below 12% to pelletize and most shoot for 10% or less. Most home grown stuff I have sampled is still in the 15 to 20% range or more. This doesn't sound like much but a 4 oz sample dried to 10% contains 0.4 oz water. A 4 oz sample dried to 20% contains .8 oz of water. In other words, if your recipe called for 4 oz of hops for bittering and you used 4 oz of the 20% moisture content hops, you would be getting 12% less alpha than the 10% moisture content hops your recipe assumes you are using. Make sense?

The final problem is in water/fertilizer application and weather. I'm amazed at how drastically hop chemistry can be effected by small changes in their growing conditions.

I like allynlyon's suggestion of making a hop tea to see if the bittering potential is there before you use it to brew. That may save you from having to dump a future batch.
To add to all this, when you say "wild" hops, do you mean hops that you found growing in your backyard or elsewhere and moved to your backyard? If you don't know its origins, lets assume that it is wild.

Even if this plant started out as a known variety, its probably changed over the years. Maybe it was pollinated and this came from the seed. Maybe it was plain mutation. In either case, things tend to travel towards averages. Think of dogs. You can start with 10 pure bred dogs of very different breeds, allow them to interbreed and supposedly within 5 or 6 generations you get a 35 to 40 pound brown dog. I suspect the same is true with hops. Most "wild" varieties I have found turn out to be pretty bland, especially if they are just left to grow on their own.
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