I have been excited since the garden started last year to grow hops and make beer with them. It is a bit harder to do it than I first thought however. Do I have tall enough trellis space? Will they take over a section of the garden? I had lots of reasons to overthink it but decided to just plant one anyway. I planted a Cascade Hops variety because others report that it grows well in our climate and is easy to grow.
Success! This first yield gave me enough hops to do a fresh hops brew!
Hops, I learned, are ready when they feel dry if you squish in your hand but bounce back like a pillow. They also leave a strong smell of hops on your fingertips. If they feel moist or dense, they are not ready. The first half of our harvest became ready early Oct and a second harvest late October early November (which was dried and frozen for later use).
To brew with fresh hops, they need to be used soon after picking. The More Beer store in Los Altos gave great recommendations on ways to highlight the fresh hops flavor so hubby and I made an ale using malt rather than extra grains so as not to mask the hops.
Primary Fermentation process:
Add malt and boil.
Secondary Fermentation step: Once your beer has been in the bucket for 1-2 weeks, it is ready to bottle. This step is basically to remove as much of the sediment as possible. Beer is siphoned from the primary fermentation bucket into a bottling bucket and then into bottles. Cleanliness is key!