The hop yard at the UBC Farm is in her second year now, and has been a project we’ve heard of for the past year or so. In case you didn’t know, hops are important ingredients in beer making. You know that bitter kick you get from drinking a good ol’ IPA? Comes from hops. Oh yeah. It’s the good stuff. And we have it growing right here on campus! Amazing.
Scott Bell, who started up the hop yard at the UBC Farm two summers ago and an enthusiastic home brewer himself, gave us a little tour of the hop yard.
Apparently hops are extremely viscous, and will attack any plants nearby, so do give it a lot of space both up and down. Their roots have a huge undergroud network.
There are a couple of varieties grown. Cascades, Golding, Nugget and some others. I can’t remember now, but I do remember being pretty impressed with the selection.
Scott said the trick to knowing if a hop plant’s ready for harvesting, was to squeeze the hop flower. If it bounces back and has sort of a papery rustling sound when you squeeze it, then it’s ready. He ripped one open to show what exactly it was that made the beer bitter and so fragrant — the lupulin glands. Golden yellow glands hidden in the hops that contain the alpha acids that give your beer that bitter kick.
Finally it’s harvest time! We get to the farm at 9.15am, cut down one of the hops plants (we picked one of the Cascades variety), and started harvesting!
And because the plants are so young, a lot of them aren’t growing to their full potential yet.
Because the likelihood of fresh hops molding is really high, we have to use them pretty quickly. Which is why there’s an impromptu brew session!
It’s really interesting because you can’t use fresh hops like dry hops. Recipes have to be tweaked and quantities have to be changed. For examples, you’ll have to use 4 times the amount of wet hops in a recipe. 6 ounces of dry hops in a recipe would require 24 ounces of wet hops, and that takes up a lot of space in your cooking pot.
The recipe we’re using as a source of reference is from here. We modified it a little.
Our slightly modified recipe:
8 lb Pale Malt extract
1 lb wheat (I’m pretty sure that it’s wheat. I was quite distracted showing off my fresh hops at Dan’s Homebrewing)
2lbs fresh Cascades hops from your local hop yard
1 packet Nottingham ale yeast
1 tspn of Irish Moss
The recipe called for a second type of hops (Nugget), but I really want a beer made entirely from fresh hops, so I passed. Anyways, 2 lbs of fresh hops are going to be more than enough. We’re also just throwing in extra hops because some of the hops flowers weren’t fully developed, and we aren’t sure what the alpha acid level is.
If your hops are grown organically like the ones from the UBC Farm, I’d recommend giving your hops a quick rinse before throwing them in. There’s a lot of bugs from my little bag of hops, and I don’t like bugs in my beer.
Note: I rinsed my hops, got super concerned that I was washing some of the hoppyness away, and realised that the bugs didn’t go away. So, I just threw them in as is, and tried to flick the bigger bugs away.
I won’t be wet hopping them like the recipe calls for, because I don’t see a point in doing it. Also I’m lazy. So I’m going to be adding my hops in 5 ounces fo ever 10 minutes until I run out of hops.
I’ve never used Whirfloc, which is basically the Kleenex version of irish moss, which is apparently dried seaweed? You throw it into your wort during brewing and it coagulates the proteins in your wort, getting rid of that nasty floating bits you hate so much in homebrew. I really don’t care if I have floating bits in my homebrew, but the recipe called for it, and I’m curious, so I’m throwing it in.
Anyways, I think it was all pretty successful. Nothing out of the blue. I might have put into too much water at the end, but we’ll see. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
So check back in 4 weeks or so to find out how our fresh hop IPA turned out!
Also, if you’re interested in purchasing some dried hops from the UBC Farm, they should be hitting their Saturday markets either this week or the next. Check out their website for more info!