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.