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Old 11-18-2010, 12:00 AM   #1
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Default What tips or rules of thumb do brewers have using homegrown hops?

Hi all,

I'm about to use my very small quantity of first-year homegrown hops in a recipe, and I was wondering what kinds of adjustments brewers normally make when using homegrown.

Are they generally hoppier or less hoppy than commercial versions? Better for dry hopping? Worse?

My hops: I grew Cascadian hops in a container in Cambridge MA. I harvested about 3 oz or so and let them dry, and now they weight about 0.5 oz. I've kept them in an airless ziplock bag in my freezer for about a month.

Obviously this isn't a lot of hops, so they won't have a huge impact, but hopefully next year...

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Old 11-18-2010, 12:04 AM   #2
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Well, you won't know the AAUs of the hops, so it's best to use them for late additions/flavor hops or aroma hops, or dryhopping. I use my homegrown hops for everything except the bittering addition.

I've noticed that there are yearly variations in the flavor. My 2009 cascades are some of the most aromatic and wonderful hops. My 2010 are less so- not as aromatic but still treated the same way. I found that my 2009 cascades were outstanding for dryhopping especially.

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Old 11-18-2010, 01:13 AM   #3
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I grow Centennial and Chinook and get about 1lb of each per year (well, for the last 3 years...) I've never used 'em for bittering - always for dry hopping and occasionally for flavor/aroma during the last 15 minutes of boil.
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:57 AM   #4
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The oils are influenced by everything that makes up the entire season. That's why every year the pro's submit their product to find out what they have. There's no way to say in general they are more or less of anything.

I suppose broadly speaking, hops grown in good soil with good amendments and well watered will be 'better' than hops grown in poor soil, no amendments, and little water. But that doesn't help much, right?

I use my hops like normal hops and when it's better I smile and say, 'Those are home grown hops.' When the beer isn't that good I shrug and say, 'Those are home grown hops.'
So either way, people seem to understand.

I've got a NB Ranger clone brewing right now. I looked over all the recipes on line, thought about it, made my own recipe based on what I read and I had a PERFECT brew day. I went down the basement today and it smells very 'vegetal'- not like Ranger at all. If it's nothing like Ranger I'll explain, "Those are home grown hops.'

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-18-2010, 03:37 PM   #5
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I had a good season and used Magnum and Nugget as bittering hop additions for my Harvest Ale. Since this was not to some specific style and I used median values for the hops, it turned out great, since I formulated the recipe to allow for enoguh variation whereas the hops being a little off high or low would not drastically affect the outcome.

However, if you are using recipes that have known targets or trying to match previous batches, it is best to use them for late hop additions and dry hopping.
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Old 11-18-2010, 03:51 PM   #6
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Old 11-18-2010, 04:11 PM   #7
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I have used homegrown for bittering. I just ass(u)me an average AA% and target the middle of the IBU range for the beer. That's worked well enough, but I agree that homegrown is best used for aroma and dry hopping. If you have the freezer space, you can bag them fresh (not dried) and get some of the fresh hop aromas lost in drying.

Be warned: frozen hops are nasty, slimy things when thawed. Best you freeze them in usable blocks and just toss them in the fermenter without thawing.

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