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Old 08-18-2008, 05:48 PM   #1
the_bird
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Forgive me, brethren, for I have only done a cursory search for the answer to this question.

My second-year Cascades are looking awesome. Huge cones, and lots of 'em. Weather's been great, lots of rain AND lots of sun. So, I'm stoked.

Picked on of the better-sized ones last night. Still feels pretty moist, not papery. No browning on the edges. No hop aroma, certainly no "Cascade-ey" aroma, even when I roll it and mash it between my hands.

Should I be getting some of that real Cascade-ey aroma before they're ready to pick? Right now, the only aroma I was getting was fresh-cut grass.

It's a simple, basic question that I'm sure has been answered two hundred times before, but how DO I know when they're ready?
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:12 PM   #2
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Flick a cone, if it snaps off, they're ready. The grassy smell is chlorophyll.
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:13 PM   #3
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Now that I have some cones that survived my giddy first year growing paws, I can tell you to wait. If you pinch a cone, it should almost crunch and stay pretty flat. A whiff from a few inches away after that should smell really hoppy and not vegetal.
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:16 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys. I was thinking they needed a bit more time (hell, it's still mid-summer).

The "grassy" descriptor that gets applied to fresh-hopped ales makes more sense now.
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Old 08-19-2008, 06:33 PM   #5
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Here are a few ways:

If they feel "pappery".
If the lupilin is dark copper yellow.
If they flick off the vine.
If they feel cool to the touch then they are not ready.
If they feel similar to the temperature outside then they are mature enough to pick.
If the bracts change color from dark to light green and the tips become brown.
If you break a cone open and you can feel the hop oils on your hands.
If the smell of "hops" - mild or citrusy - overtakes the grassy smell in an instant.

A combo of any one and not limited to one of these should be a good indicator.

-WW
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:47 PM   #6
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Yeah my hops are just starting to get that wonderful aroma, for a while they just smelled grassy, here in the NW the pros should be harvesting in a couple more weeks.
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:17 AM   #7
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Mine seemed like they actually started to loosen up a bit when they were ready.
More like pine cones when they mature but not nearly as wide open...just loose.

The tips of bracts had just a little brown and when squeezed the citrus smell of cascade was impossible to mistake.

I think it's one of those things that once you see it...all the advice that everyone has given will make better sense.

 
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:49 AM   #8
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The best way for me to describe ripe hops is what I told a relative of my wife last night. He has a feral plant growing on his property and wants to brew a beer with it.

When the tips of the cone leaves are starting to turn yellow and/or brown. When you pinch a cone and it feels, but more importantly SOUNDS crispy, you can pick them. Tear one open and look inside. The bright yellow lupulin glands will be smiling at you. If you smash them between your fingers they'll emit their glorious aroma. It will be unmistakable.

Sorry, I got lost in lupuland for moment. Pay attention to all of the things I've listed. Use your senses and you'll be able to tell when it's time. It really helps to RDWHAHB when you're out in your hop yard.
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Old 08-21-2008, 03:22 PM   #9
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Mine are not ready, but a good squish definitely provides some cascade aroma. You have some time.
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:00 PM   #10
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I smashed a flower last night. Somethign had chewed the end off of it (so it appeared). It was still not dry, but I did get a nice smell of cascade. Not as much as I think it ought to, but these are first year, and small. Can't wait to see if I have enough to brew with. Even one batch would be wonderful!

 
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