Are my hops okay?

Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:17 pm

I have some home grown cascade hops that appear ready to harvest. Every 3-4 cones have a couple of leaves that will have a few small black dots on them. Maybe, 3-4 pencil lead size spots. Most cones appear to be fine.

I only picked a few and decided to stop. To this point I inspected every hop and tossed out anything that even showed signs of anything.

My questions are:

What's wrong with my hops? (mold?)

Is this the correct procedure (which takes for ever to inspect every cone)?

Am I screwed and should toss all hops for this year?

Am I worrying too much and they are fine?

Anything I can do to prevent this next year?

Thanks for the help.
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Re: Are my hops okay?

Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:41 am

The list of things that could be wrong with them is a mile long, and IMHO, not worth stressing over. If you crack a couple cones open and they smell good (no Parmesan cheese or mold odors, you know what hops should smell like), I'd say it's time to brew.

Do yourself a favor and wait until the last possible second to pick them before brew day. If you're brewing Saturday, pick them Friday after work. They start to degrade the minute theyre picked, and unless you plan on drying them, they need to get into a boil kettle.

If you haven't brewed with homegrown fresh whole cones before, it's worth doing some googlefoo. You'll want to use a commercial hop with a known AA% for your bittering, and use the freshies for late, big flavor and aroma additions.

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Re: Are my hops okay?

Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:32 pm

You don't make beer with the leaves so don't worry about it! Your profile doesn't give a hint to your geographical location. If you miss a single watering during a hot spell, your leaves will show it. (vacations, long work days, a weekend away). Pick them, dry them, and brew. I just finished packaging my Cascades and now have 6 lbs. dry weight with a decent alpha to brew with! I am not a fan of wet hopping so I dry them first. The other factor is that harvest season for me is labor intensive and brewing takes a back seat. (150 hills, 6 different hop varieties)
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Re: Are my hops okay?

Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:23 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

I live in Maine, and to be honest, didn't get much chance to pay attention to them this summer.

Just to be clear, the spots are on the cones themselves. It sounds like as long as they smell god use them.

I have at this point harvested and dried most of the hops while awaiting any help in whether to use them or not.
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Re: Are my hops okay?

Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:30 am

It's hard to say without seeing them, but they sound fine to me. I'd split a few open to make sure you don't have bugs & give them the 2-finger smell test. If they look & smell good other than a couple spots, I wouldn't hesitate to use them.

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Re: Are my hops okay?

Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:47 am

gwk453 wrote:You don't make beer with the leaves so don't worry about it!

While they are distinctly different from the vegetative leaves, botanically speaking, the cones that we use are made up of bracts, which ARE modified leaves. You're familiar with bracts in other plants, they often serve to protect developing flowers (artichoke), or attract pollinators (the red 'petals' of a poinsettia are actually bracts, the flower is the little yellow bit in the center).

In the case of hops the bracts serve a protective role of the developing seeds in pollinated individuals. In this sense it is more accurate to call them leaves than it is to call them a flower, the flower structure has disappeared by that point, similar to how an apple flower shrivels into nothing after it is pollinated.

Hop flowers.

Hop cone, showing bracts.

"Cousin" develops similarly, so if you've ever had wild grown hops or cousin with seeds, the leafy material protecting the seeds at their base are the bracts. Of course, we don't care about seeds and the like for brewing, we just want that lupulin goodness.
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