Which Varieties?

Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:01 pm

I'm planning on sticking some rhizomes in the ground this spring, seeing that my last frost is six weeks from now, time to make some decisions.
I'm thinking of planting three different varieties, two bines of each. Which three varieties would be the most versatile/valuable? I brew mostly IPA's Pliny being the gold standard in my mind. Should I even bother with bittering hops, or just grow aroma for making a late addition wet hop harvest beer?
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Re: Which Varieties?

Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:49 am

I would recommend always growing hops for aroma. There is no way to tell how much alpha acid % is in homegrown hops, so they are unreliable for bittering. Aroma on, my friend.
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Re: Which Varieties?

Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:52 pm

The only reason I would try bittering varieties would be for a wet-hop brew. You have to assume your bittering hops on an average for that particular variety (and probably low-ball it a little) and go from there. As you're only looking to start with 6 bines, I would pass on them until the obsession, err... hobby, has you tending over a dozen rhizomes back there. That's the point when I would add a single rhizome of my favorite bittering hop into the mix.

My advice would be to stick with flavor and aroma varieties for the time being.

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Re: Which Varieties?

Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:37 am

Cascade is a must. I have had excellent results with my Nugget and Magnum bittering hops. Like fine wines, there will be differences every year - that is part of the fun of growing hops. There are places that will analyze bitterness of your hops for about $25 per variety if you want to go that route.

Personally, I would just brew a batch using your best guess and then, make adjustments on subsequent batches. Keep it fun, keep it interesting... I have yet to have a bad batch (disclaimer - since my first year, contamination). When you can't stop your homebrew friends from "stopping by" because they were in the neighborhood, you know you have good beer / ale! Live fast, take chances.
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Re: Which Varieties?

Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:12 pm

I second the Cascade, it seems to be THE variety that most people have the most success with (several pounds per year versus ounces). It is also excellent in IPAs and basically any American style, or can be used in bittering most styles. And when it comes to IBUs, no worries, you'll figure it out after a batch or two.

Other prolific growers might be Nugget, Centennial, Mt. Hood, and Progress. I haven't grown these myself, but based on things that I have read over the past couple of years, I would expect any of these varieties to grow like crazy within a couple of years without much trouble.

Personally, I like to have some real German and English hop plants on hand as well, just for versatility for brewing different styles as well as authenticity, or at least, as close as I can get here in Wisconsin. I have had good success with my Hallertauer plant, it is very spicy and a bit herbal. And I plan to get Kent Goldings next, if I can find the real thing. These varieties don't produce as much, and are more prone to diseases, but... it really all depends what you want -- quality, or quantity? If you want something easier to grow, maybe I'd go with Mt. Hood and Progress instead, as these should be good approximations of the continental varieties.

But don't let me tell you what's best. Do what YOU like. If, for instance, you love American hops best, then by all means, go with Centennial, Chinook, Willamette... whatever you like. Those are just a few that I know the rhizomes are available somewhere out there. It seems you can't buy rhizomes of certain varieties, if they have new patents on them or whatever.

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Re: Which Varieties?

Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:08 am

I'm happy with my nugget. it's fourth B-Day is coming up!
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Re: Which Varieties?

Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:03 am

i plan on putting two cascade rhizomes in my back yard this spring
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Re: Which Varieties?

Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:06 pm

I'll third the cascade. Hardy, pest resistant, and has that classic american flavor.
Be sure to plant your different varieties far enough away from each other so that you can tell the difference at harvest.
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