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Old 03-02-2010, 07:57 PM   #1
MrFishy
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Default Hop Varieties for Belgians / Sonoma, CA

Hi all,
I am having a very difficult time selecting which hops I should be growing and am looking for some help. There is plenty of information here and elsewhere about how to grow hops and where to buy rhizomes, etc etc.

I'm looking for some way to find which hops I should be growing per style of beer / what will grow in my area. I am planning to brew almost exclusively Belgians, largely in the style of Russian River Brewing company, where the owner says,

"I use Styrian Golding and Sterling almost exclusively in all of our Belgian style and barrel aged beers. Lately I've been messing around with some American IPA hops in some of our Belgian-style beers. I've had good luck with Cascade and Amarillo."

I have seen lots of people clone his beers using cascade or fuggles, but I would like to go with the Styrian Golding / Sterling as it seems more genuine (I've read that they won't grow here like they grow in their native ground, but on the other hand shouldn't they be a much closer match than anything else?). But I've also found here that I may be able to substitute one variety for another!

I live in Sonoma County, CA- wine country. We get a bit of fog, a lot of sun, and some pretty high temperatures in the summer. I've had very little luck finding information on which hops will grow in which locations; people seem to say hops will grow anywhere (does this only apply to cascade?), and that cascade is the easiest and biggest yield. On the other hand, most don't need that many hops and many growers have more than they need, so does a large yield really matter? I feel that maybe in my location, most any should grow given proper care.

So far I know I will be planting 2-4 plants, at least one cascade simply because it's easy to grow, and the others I have NO IDEA! Many of the other, "beginner" hops just don't seem right for me (Magnum, Nugget). Williamette? Sterling? Styrian Golding (note- where can I find this?)? Fuggle?

What we need is an index of which hops grow where and what they're best for. In the meantime, maybe you can help me select some rhizomes?


For reference-
A list of hop varieties and a bit of growing information
A guide to hops by beer style
A very similar thread from a guy in Colorado Springs



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Old 03-02-2010, 10:28 PM   #2
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freshops.com has Sterling. Willamette is a good choice, as it can be used as a bittering hop and as a substitute for Fuggle. Styrian Golding might be tough to find, it's also called just Styrian, but isn't grown much in the US.

As far as what grows where, hops can be very picky about weather. I live 30 miles from the 2nd largest hop growing region in the US and nothing grows very well here. I'm 400 ft higher and that makes a huge difference.

Take heart that good grape country == good hop country.

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Old 03-03-2010, 01:23 AM   #3
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Thanks for the advice David, interesting and helpful to hear about weather / grapes (a know-it all I know insists that Sonoma County can't grow good hops).

Some "synonyms" for Styrian Golding- Fuggle, Styrian, Savinjski Golding, Yugoslavia Golding, Savinja Golding, etc. Very confusing, but I guess that's the way cultivars go. Hard to tell if they're different cultivars or just...uh... terroir.

I think I may go with Fuggle, some say it is actually the same plant. Also it has a really cool name.

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