Homegrown, homebrewed

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Homegrown Hops

The weather has been kind to us this summer, and gladly it also gave me a lovely crop of hops in my back garden. They are First Gold, a dwarf variety which is suitable for growing in my garden as it doesn’t get too tall. I train it to grow almost horizontally anyway, but it fits nicely into the sunniest corner of the garden. I originally got some hop rhizomes from Rossa and after I planted them, the dog dug up two, but luckily one remained underground and has now flourished into a fine specimen of a plant.

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Lots of lovely cones!


For the past few years, I’ve had a harvest of wild hops from a hedgerow out the road, and invariably I would pick them and dry them out. This year though, with hops growing only yards from the brew pot, it was time to give a ‘wet hop’ beer a go. I decided to do a traditional(ish) IPA, and use only the First Gold hops from the garden.

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First Wort Hops

Hopping started off with adding hops directly from the bine to the first runnings of the mash – first wort hops as fresh as they could possibly be!

Hopping then continued through the boil: bittering, flavour and aroma additions in the boil. As they didn’t come in a packet telling me what the AA%, there was a bit of guesswork/estimation involved in predicting the bitterness of the beer. This need for estimation was further increased by the (lack of) measurement; hops were added in ‘handfulls’ rather than weighing how many grammes were used. First Gold have a range of 6.5 – 8.5% AA, so an estimate of 7.5% was plugged into Beersmith, along with weight estimates for the different additions. The expected bitterness calculated by the software was was 79IBUs – a bit on the bitter side and certainly more bitter than my usual brews – but should appease the hopheads of the SouthEastHomebrewers! Hops were also added post primary fermentation; again a couple of handfulls added straight from the bine for dry hopping (or should that be wet hopping..?)
Did I mention there were other ingredients in this beer other than hops? The malt bill was simple, but added the non-traditional angle – 99% Vienna and 1% Carfa II. This created a lovely amber colour, and the Nottingham yeast fermented at 17C gave a nice bright, clear beer.

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Wild Hop harvest


And so on to the next brew, this time using the (dried) wild hop harvest. Something dark and hoppy perhaps…..

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Dried Wild Hops

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