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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Hops Growing > This year's harvest of 90 yr old hops, and a harvesting tip
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Old 10-08-2008, 04:27 PM   #1
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Default This year's harvest of 90 yr old hops, and a harvesting tip

Hi all--
My great-great-grandfather planted hops on our farm in Montana before or around 1920. I don't know the variety. Probably cluster, if cluster existed then, or maybe they're a rare (or even otherwise extinct) old German variety that some member of the family brought with them. I don't know if he ever brewed beer, but we do know that he had a still and made moonshine before or during the depression. The still is still in the attic of the shop.
I brought a couple hunks or rhizome to Illinois a few years ago, mostly to plant for shade and privacy around our deck. I've not yet brewed with them, (in fact, I've never brewed at all) but will be doing so very soon.
I'm not looking for identification--I know it's not possible with these (or any) pictures. I just feel like sharing the photos. This is only a small part of the harvest, which was several paper grocery bags full--and I left probably half the cones on the bines due to badly timed rainstorms and a flooding basement. They smell great--hoppy, floral, a little spicy--and make your hands sticky when you harvest.
Oh, the tip: use an open umbrella as a picking container. Hard to miss, even if you don't look where you're dropping the cones (unlike a bucket or bag), light, easy to move around. It can be on the ground catching hops even if you're up on a ladder.
If anyone knows a source of info about the history of hops in America, let me know.
Olaf
Here are a few photos of the hops

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Old 10-08-2008, 06:11 PM   #3
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Wow, that looks like a great harvest. You need to start brewing asap!
I've ordered the gear, now I'm just waiting for UPS to show up.
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Old 10-08-2008, 06:40 PM   #4
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Nice! and great tip about the umbrella! I hope to need that advice for next year's harvest.

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Old 10-08-2008, 06:41 PM   #5
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I've ordered the gear, now I'm just waiting for UPS to show up.
I think a nice fresh hop ale is in order here!
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:01 PM   #6
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I think a nice fresh hop ale is in order here!
Precisely what I was planning to do. I don't know if they still count as fresh now that they're dried, vacuum-packed and frozen. Next year I'm going to be ready to brew when harvest season comes around. I doubt I'll use them before drying, for fear of tasting too much vegetable flavor, but I'll definitely use some that have just dried.
I guess I'll get a kit of ingredients and use my hops instead of/in addition to some or all of the aroma/flavor hops in the kit. I wish I had two or three complete brewing setups so I could make a batch using only my hops, a batch combining known hops with mine, and a batch using only known hops. Then I could spend days in the basement, coming upstairs only to use the bathroom, taste-testing bottle after bottle. It'd be a triple blind test, and I'd be triply blind by the end of it.
I have high hopes for these hops, but I'm realistic enough to know that they might not be any good.
Olaf
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Old 10-08-2008, 10:18 PM   #7
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Welcome Olaf! I too have some "heritage hops" as I call them. My great-great grandfather grew them commercially on a small scale here in upstate NY at the turn of the century. I just brewed an American Pale Ale with these and am really looking forward to my first taste. I will be bottling this batch this weekend.

As far as the history of hops cultivation in America, I have done a bit of research ~ mostly in NY state, but very interesting. Here are a few links:

Upstate Alive magazine - Richard Vang - The Past, Present, and Yes, Future of the Hops Industry

http://www.madisontourism.com/trail_hop.pdf

Chapter X. American Hop Culture

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Old 10-09-2008, 12:32 AM   #8
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Precisely what I was planning to do. I don't know if they still count as fresh now that they're dried, vacuum-packed and frozen. Next year I'm going to be ready to brew when harvest season comes around. I doubt I'll use them before drying, for fear of tasting too much vegetable flavor, but I'll definitely use some that have just dried.
I guess I'll get a kit of ingredients and use my hops instead of/in addition to some or all of the aroma/flavor hops in the kit. I wish I had two or three complete brewing setups so I could make a batch using only my hops, a batch combining known hops with mine, and a batch using only known hops. Then I could spend days in the basement, coming upstairs only to use the bathroom, taste-testing bottle after bottle. It'd be a triple blind test, and I'd be triply blind by the end of it.
I have high hopes for these hops, but I'm realistic enough to know that they might not be any good.
Olaf
Wet hop ales are a must IMO with homegrown but you'll want to get a few batches under your belt with the dried stuff you have now. I did a wet hop and a dried version of the same beer this year with my homegrown hops, it was a great learning experience.

No need for multiple rigs, split batches are just the thing for this type of brewing. Take good notes.

Welcome to the forums and to brewing!
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Old 10-09-2008, 12:35 AM   #9
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wow great garvest! Thats pretty cool how a family member planted those 90 years ago

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so barley is a leaves of hops? or barley is a different plant? and blend with hops? I need that to be cleared thanks..
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:22 PM   #10
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Default They look a lot like my mystery hops

Vermont Mystery Hops

Interested in exchanging some to compare?
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