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Hops Harvest Complete

Friday, September 21st, 2012

The 2012 hops harvest is complete! Everything is packaged and dried.

The process is to first harvest the hops by hand picking. You can cut the vines down, but this year I decided to leave them up and use a small step ladder to reach the higher cones. My advice is to only harvest one variety at a time and keep track of where each variety is in the picking / drying / packing process.

hand picked hops


Then you want to let the hops dry for about 48 hours, until they are no longer moist to the touch.  I weighed a few of the samples before and after. There was about a 50% reduction in weight. This runs counter to the advice of using 4-7 times the normal amount when brewing a fresh hop beer…

hand picked hops

The false bottom came in handy for the smaller crops:
hand picked hops
When they are dry, weigh them out for packaging.  One of my recipes calls for 2 oz of Chinook, so I weighed out that amount for that particular bag.

weighing out dried hops for beer brewing

A vacuum sealer is a wonderful tool for this process.

vacuum sealing dried hops at home

preserving hops at home
I then label the bag, and put them in the freezer.

The inventory feature at the site helps me keep track of what I have.  I wonder if I will ever get around to using that 2010 Willamette??

home brewing inventory tracker


Here is the breakdown of what I got, and the order harvested in. It seems like Kent Goldings is always latest in the season to harvest.

  • Chinook – 10.5 oz
  • Hallertau – 10.2 oz (two vines)
  • Cascade – 2.2 oz
  • Zeus – 2.2 oz
  • Fuggle – 2.9 oz
  • Magnum – 1.6 oz
  • Nugget – 7.7 oz
  • Goldings – 5.25 oz
  • TOTAL:  42.5 oz = 2.65 pounds, @ $2.00 per ounce retail – about $85 dollars in hops, I’ll take it! You can beat the price of $2/oz if you buy in bulk.
Why such small yields on some of these? I’m not totally sure…  Here is what I observed. The Chinook plant is in the middle of the shed so it can grow the tallest  (13.5 feet). Nugget has the second highest path to climb. The other plants top out around ten feet. Based on my extremely small sample size, it appears the taller you can let the vines climb, the higher the yield. Watering was very consistent this year thanks to our soaker hose setup.  In terms of feeding the plants, this year I did only a couple treatments of miracle grow. Next year I will do more. I also plan to build a trellis on the shed to extend the reach of some of the vines.

Post by Larry

  1. 5 Responses to “Hops Harvest Complete”

  2. I’ve dried mine on window screens, similar to what it looks like you’ve got, with a fan underneath. I’ve found that after about 72 hours they lose 60%-75% of their water weight. So that’s closer to a 3x or 4x wet-to-dry ratio, where yours is more like 2x.

    But commercial hop growers actually kiln dry them at about 120°F. I bet if we had that equipment we’d see the cones lose 80% or more of their weight, which would truly make the ratio of wet hops from our bines to the pelletized hops at the LHBS 5:1.

    I guess the only way to know for sure would be to actually send a sample of your hops to a lab to test for AA% by weight.

    By Matt on Sep 21, 2012

  3. Next year I may set aside some hops and let them dry out for an extra day or two. I will keep records of the moisture loss. I agree it is possible that near 75% of the weight can be lost to drying. At the same time a 7x weight loss just seems outrageous (that is what 85%?). When I first read that stat, I laughed to myself and thought it was a justification by marketers to sell more hops. 3-4x is my guess, we’ll have to wait until next year to find out 🙂

    This year, they were starting to feel papery, and that is when I normally package. Besides I needed to make room to continue the drying process since I had so many varieties to process!

    By Larry on Sep 22, 2012

  4. How do you know what the AA% is of hops you grow?? Is the strain pretty consistent, or is each hop season make a small change based on rainfall, temp, etc..

    By Tom on Sep 22, 2012

  5. That is part of the fun of using your own hops – you don’t know for sure. Lab testing would be required to know for sure, but not worth it at this scale. I just use the variety’s average AA.

    By Larry on Sep 25, 2012

  6. I was wondering if anyone had used a food dehydrator and what the results they got with it?

    By Kythe on Jan 18, 2013

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