Re: My wife's coworker has wild hops in her yard.

Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:56 am

Eltharyon wrote:NE PA really?
Hmm might have to do some looking next time I go to Honesdale for paintballng.

Yep. My sister & her husband have a farm there in Columbia Cross Roads.
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Re: My wife's coworker has wild hops in her yard.

Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:15 pm

Maybe you could harvest some and mail an oz to a few experienced brewers who might be able to narrow down the variety?

Or just wing it and make a batch yourself and test out the aroma?
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Re: My wife's coworker has wild hops in her yard.

Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:25 pm

Adam wrote:I don't know how to ID hops, so I figured visually was one method. I'll post pics and such here as well as check with a horticulturist professor at MI Tech if they can help me. The house was her boyfriend's grandparents house and they've been on the property since then. No one in their family ever brewed. From what we know about them, they're as wild as can be.


Sounds pretty awesome that you do, in fact, have some old unknown hops growing there. My first inkling was that these must have been planted by a college student, but now it doesn't sound that way. Interesting...

Well, being from northern Wisconsin, and a homegrower of hops, and having gone to MTU for 4 years, I might be able to help.

While the Keweenaw weather is on the very cool and short-seasoned side of things, I guess a hardy enough plant could produce a consistent crop. It's definitely wet enough, and not too hot to where they'd bake like in the deep South. Hops are really just cultivated weeds, anyway. They can grow under all different sorts of conditions.

In the mid-1800s, hops were a HUGE cash crop for central and southern Wisconsin. So it's definitely possible that some hops could have been cultivated as far north as the Keweenaw around that same time. The likely suspects would be Cluster, which is sort of the first hugely grown American hop variety, as well as any of the old German noble varieties (Hallertauer, Spalter, Tettnanger), which would have been extremely popular due to nearly half the inhabitants of Wisconsin being from Germany or bordering nations. The beverage of choice at the time, similar to today, was pilsner, although it was quite a bit stronger in those days. Also the occasional bock. But anyway.....

I'd seek out photos of both the leaves and hop cones of above mentioned varieties, then check back in August timeframe to see what you might have. Hope this helps narrow things down. Although it is also entirely possible that you have truly wild American hops, which do exist. But my bet is that these are remnants of some hop farm from about 150 years ago. Could have been planted by a previous landowner as well for his own homebrewing use -- again, like 150 years ago, or even more. Be on the lookout for any male hop plants, which instead of cones have little berries that sort of look like small grapes. If 50/50 males and females, then they are truly wild hops. But if all you get is females, then you'll know these are from an old farm, specifically put there for brewing.

Anyway.... Cool stuff. :jnj
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Re: My wife's coworker has wild hops in her yard.

Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:50 pm

Beerdrinker, I'll grab some samples and bring it to one of the colleges here or send them to someone that would know exactly what they are.

Dmtaylor, as you know the Keweenaw is full of Finlander but I don't know their drink of choice. I'm originally from Oshkosh (lived in Milwaukee & Green Bay as well) before I moved up here in 2005. Since you went to MTU, I'm in Laurium and the place where the hops are located is out in Trimountain.

I guess I'll have to wait until they flower up to figure it out. She said if I can use them for home brewing, I can take all I want for free. Obviously there are more hops than I could ever use myself in a short time. Depending on what they are, my thoughts are take what I can use and sell the rest. Split the money with them. It's not enough to open up a website, but maybe sell via forums or something limited term. Like "I've got X pounds of Y hops for Z price" and let it ride. I don't know how to harvest them or prep them for use or shipment down the line. I can visit that when the time comes.
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Re: My wife's coworker has wild hops in her yard.

Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:10 pm

Ah, yes, Trimountain... I drove through there between Houghton and Conover, WI many many times on my way to and from home. And Laurium, my, what a fine town. :)

I don't think the Finns really made or drank a whole lot of beer. Not hopped, anyway. I think their thing was more with spruce tips and herbs and things. Or perhaps mead and cider, but not so much beer, as the crops were harder to grow in their native land. But that doesn't mean a few Germans or hop farmers couldn't have taken hold up dere in da U.P.

I don't know if you could sell them for much, unless you can identify them within a reasonable range. If you can somehow figure out if they're German noble varieties, or Clusters, you'd stand a better chance at selling some, if that is your inclination. But brew with them, and give them away (free!) to buddies -- that's what I would do. Up to you.
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Re: My wife's coworker has wild hops in her yard.

Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:34 am

My supervisor at work home brews and is the brewmaster for Red Jacket Brewing Co. in Calumet (Michigan House). If they are usable I'll send some his way for helping me out getting off the ground. I don't know of anyone else in person that brews. I'm always looking for ways to make money, so if they are sellable, I'll try to sell as much as I can (and split it with the property owner of course). Using hops that virgin is out of my skill set thus far. I'm going to stick with pellet hops and extract brewing until I get the process down pat before I venture into all grain brewing and prepping hops off the plant.
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