Rubin Hops

I have done a number of Czech hop profiles over the past few months. These hop varieties have one thing in common, they were bred from Saaz hops.

Along with Agnus and Kazbek hops, Rubin hops are another new variety from the Czech Republic for you to try out in your next homebrew.

Rubin has stronger bittering characteristics than its Saaz parent. It is not as refined as Saaz but it does last longer.

Registered in 2007, these hops are branded as a dual purpose hop to be used throughout the boil. This hop variety could give you bigger spiciness than you would get from using Saaz. It has the same range of alpha acids as Agnus hops have but it isn’t grown as much as that hop from the stats I was able to find on what hops are grown in what region of the Czech Republic. That fact is worth noting especially if you are looking to find Rubin hops in your local homebrew shop. If they are not available, try Agnus instead.   Maybe in a few years, they will be as prominent in stores as their Saaz-bred brothers and sisters

Origin: The Czech Republic

Aroma/Flavor: Spicy, earthy.  Once source stated that it did have some aroma similarities to Strisselspalt hops.

Alpha Acid: Typical ranges started at 9% and ended at 14%

Typical Usage: Dual Purpose. Rubin would be a good one to use in a Bohemian or Czech Pilsner. If it is stronger but a little more wild than plain old Saaz, you may want to experiment with them first before using them in your next world class lager.

If you don’t want to experiment, you could bitter with these hops and use Saaz late in the boil or as a dry hop addition to get the traditional flavor and aroma in your beer.

Brew ON!

First Wort Hopping With Homegrown Hops

With all these homegrown hops, I was thinking about employing a different brewing technique-

First Wort Hopping.

This is a way to change the hops profile in your finished beer by adding them to your kettle at a different time in the brewing process.

In the past, I have used my homegrown hops in a dry hopping fashion by adding them to a clean and sanitized glass carboy and letting the beer mingle with the hops for a while.  The results weren’t that remarkable.  To be honest, although it made for nice photos, the beer didn’t come out smelling hoppy or tasting like it was dry hopped.   Besides that, there was a weird hint of bubble gum in the beer’s flavor, which could have been a result of some kind of infection.  That infection which could have been introduced from the dried homegrown hops but I digress.

Using this method, I would be mitigating my risk of infection from homegrown hops since they would be boiled but I should be getting some of the benefits of what dry hopping would provide.

To learn more about the method, you can find information on BeerSmith’s blog or BillyBrew.com but in simple terms, you add your flavoring hops into the kettle at the same time as your first runnings from your mash tun. The hops steep for a while before your wort starts to boil and the effect is a smooth bitterness and aroma in the finished beer.

Mike has tried it different times last year, but he feels that without doing a side by side with a beer that he didn’t brew with a first wort hopping measure, he really can’t say if he noticed a difference.

He said the beers that he did FWH, he tended to feel like the hop profile wasn’t what he was looking for.

He feels that first wort hopping is almost always done by people doing lots of hopping for IPAs or Pale Ales. He thinks the effect is probably lost in the total hop effect because so much more hops being added to the wort anyway.

Well I am going to try it for the Autumn Ale and hopefully it will be FWH -> FTW 

Celeia Hops

Along with the newer varieties of Aurora and Bobek, the Slovenian fields have produced another pleasant hop. Celeia hops are another one to try if you are looking to brew something new.

Bred from Styrian Golding, Aurora, and a wild Slovenian hop, it is currently grown in a number of countries including Austria, Serbia, along with Slovenia.

With its lineage, there are some bolder flavors that Celeia brings to the party. It should be noted that Aurora is known as Super Styrian so some of those powers must have been transferred to the child.

Origin: Slovenia

Aroma/Flavor: Lots of sources described this hop as being pleasant, earthy, and spicy.  For The Love of Hops goes into greater detail about the stronger flavor profile.  It has, in comparison to its Slovenian cousins, more citrus-y aromas particularly grapefruit.

Alpha Acid: 4 – 6.5%

Typical Usage: Based on its low alpha acids, this one is better used later in the boil.  Brew with higher alpha hops at the start of the boil and showcase those unique flavors.

Beer Styles: Lagers, English Bitters and Ales

As always, a SMaSH beer is the best way to get an idea of what this hop tastes like in a finished beer.  Brew with a few ounces of Celeia hops and spread the additions across the full duration of the boil.

If you were looking to brew a Slovenian ale, you could brew one with a bittering charge of Aurora, followed up with a mid-boil addition of Styrian Goldings and Bobek, and finish it off with Celeia at flameout.

I am not sure how much different it would taste from an ale brewed with different German hops throughout.  Would German hops seem more floral as compared to the Slovenian ones?  Surely if the malt, water, and yeast choices were the same, you could make that comparison.

Hop Harvesting Video

For this week’s video we headed outside into John’s “Hopyard”! It’s late August and the hop cones are starting to mature, so it’s time to get to the hop harvesting, which means picking and drying.

To know that they are ready to pick, John looks for the cones to start to seem a little papery and crisp to the touch. He also looks inside the cones once they seem to be getting close for all that yellow lupulin oils building up. A few browning tips on the cones really indicate that the cone is maturing and is ready to go.

Just a tip on picking hops, the bines and leaves can cause irritation to your skin.  After a short time of contact with the plant, your arms and hands may be covered with a red rash and it may itch.  Make a point to wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt and you will be well protected when picking hop cones.

John goes ultra low budget and keeps with a simple DIY ethos. Pulling a few small window screens from the house, he props them up on shelves or chairs to ensure good airflow and lets them dry out naturally. After three days, the cones are bone dry and ready for storage in plastic bags with zip top closures.  Once they are in the bags, they can be stored in your freezer until brew day.  If you want to save yourself some time on brew day, you can pre-measure your hops for weight and bag them by size.

Growing hops is pretty easy once you focus on a little watering and a little composting. Each season the hops get more and more robust providing you with a good solid crop by year three.

Put it in your calendar to get some rhizomes next spring and you’ll be harvesting plenty of hops yourself.

Enjoy the video.

Homegrown Hops Harvest 2013

Four years ago, I began growing my own hops. There were no expectations on my part. If they grew and they produced cones, it would be deemed a success. The ultimate goal would be to have enough cones at harvest to brew a beer.

The first plants that I bought were Magnum and Mt. Hood. Magnum is a high alpha hop where a little goes a long way for bittering hops. The cones are large and have a pleasant hop aroma. Because of the size of the cones, the plant is a “quality over quantity” producer. At harvest time, there may not be as many cones, but the ones I pick are beauties.

Last weekend, the Magnum plant was harvested and I weighed all the hops before drying. The scale reading was over 1 pound. Once they are dry, the cones will weigh a third of that total but it was good to see the weight over a pound.

Next year, we have dreams of a wet hop brew but this year we’re drying them out for an Autumn ale.

The second year Cascade plant produced like a champ this summer. The cones on the upper half of the bines have picked and are now drying as well. Mike and I videoed a some thoughts about the Cascade plant a few days ago and we will post it tomorrow. The hops were not weighed before they were placed on the drying screen. From the looks of it, the yield will be between 1.5 and 2 ounces of dried cones. For a second year hops plant, I am happy with the amount I was able to harvest.

The third one, which is also four years old, is the Mt. Hood plant. My brother has been growing it and harvest time should be some time this week. From photos I have seen, we will have a hefty amount of cones and I plan to use them in an Alt or maybe a Yule Lager (recipe to follow).

Happiness is a couple of screens of drying hops.
Homegrown hops harvest 2013