Wild Hops!?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by sbaclimber, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Other than a couple of (rather sickly) hop plants on my balcony, and that which I have read, I really have no clue when it comes to growing/harvesting hops.
    But....late last year (October-November, i.e. post potential harvest time), I discovered a potential (green) gold mine of wild hops just a few miles from where I live. Today, I had a ride past on my bike to see how things are looking this year, and they're looking good! :cool:
    This pic is of way less than 1/2 of the total hops growing in the area...


    They look like hops, smell like hops, and even taste like hops (I made some tea last year), but I of course have no idea what variety they might be related to, and/or what AA or attributes they might have...
    I will be looking around in the internet to see what I come up with, but maybe some of you have seen hops that look a bit like this!?



    Potentially a much more important question.....
    What should I do with them before throwing them in my brew?
    I would really like to brew a beer with them (just for shits-and-giggles), but am not sure if I can just throw them into the kettle. They are not near any sort of heavily used street, farm, industry or anything else that might contaminate them, but what about the natural creepy-crawlies?
     

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  2. BiggHaus

    BiggHaus New Member

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    dry them and use them for flavor and aroma since you dont know aa %. remember they use too use alot of different stuff back in the day. at the end of the day its still beer
     
  3. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    An hour in boiling water does wonders for creepy crawlies. I'd do a wet hop batch with them (or a couple of them), then I'd dry the rest, vacuum seal them and put them in the freezer. You should be able to dry them in paper grocery bags - just open the top to let the moisture out periodically. That works pretty well. Don't ask me how I know that - I've never grown hops. You could weigh them before and after to get an idea how much moisture they lose. I guess if you're worried about chemicals or something you could lightly spray them with water and shake them out, but don't shake out all of the lupulin. Give us an update after you use them.
    Btw, what kind of climber are you?
     
  4. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Cool idea! That sounds a lot easier than building drying screens for what may well end up being a one-off experiment.

    Oh, I definitely will. :)

    Prefer trad, but do alot of sport as well. I putter around with boulding/buildering a bit as well, but just to keep my fingers in shape.
     
  5. BrewHop

    BrewHop New Member

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    Wow, that looks like a goldmine! What did the tea taste like? More spicey, floral, citrusy?
     
  6. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    I really wish I could remember! The hops were already a bit over-ripe last year, so even if could remember, it wouldn't necessarily be a good indication of what they will be like picked at the proper time.
     
  7. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    You can use them wet as they are without drying them. You would use 5 x the normal weight ratio if you're using them wet.
    Without any idea of the variety, I'd make a single hop pale ale with 3-5 ounces @ 60 min and then hop burst at the end of the boil.
    So a hop schedule something like this.
    3 oz. wet hop @ 60 min
    2.5 oz. wet hop @ 20 min
    2.5 oz. wet hop @ 5 min
    2.5 oz. wet hop @ 0 min
    2.5 oz. wet hop @ 1 weed as dry hop.

    I did this lasr year with some locally grown Nugget and had great results.
    You'll know after you taste and smell the beer exactly what to expext in the future.
    On one end of the spectrum you'll have an intense, hoppy APA and on the other end you may end up with an flavorfull European style spicy pale ale.
    Both sound good to me! Send me one when they're ready!

    One thing, You'll need to use a strainer bag to remove all the hops in the BK. I would just plan on using a bucket for the primary and pouring the whole boil through a paint strainer bag and then pull the bag and squeeze out the goodness!

    Let us know how it comes out.
    TBM
     
  8. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    +1 on the single hop brew.
     
  9. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    So, time for an update on the wild hops!
    They are now ripe, and I harvested half a kilo yesterday. (could've easily picked twice as much if I had the time)
    I will be drying them in paper bags (Thank you, Altbier for that tip! I tried it with my home grown hops, and it worked great) and then freezing, because I won't have the capacity to brew with them until November.

    I immediately made some "tea" with them, to get an idea of their characteristics.
    Recipe:
    - 1/2l. H2O
    - small handful (~10 small cones) @30min
    - small handful (~10 small cones) @ 5min.

    The good news is, they are fairly aromatic. Mostly spicy/herbal, but also some definite flower/fruit notes. A tiny bit of grass as well, but I am guessing that has more to due with them being fresh(?)
    Bittering qualities are fairly low but existent. I think it would've been surpising if they were high AA anyway...

    The thing that worries me a bit, is the extremely high tannin extraction. Not only was the tea very astringent, but it even had a nice red color (see pic below).
    I am hoping that I only extracted so many tannins because I used tap water (pH = 7.7), and that in a normal wort boil the pH will be low enough (pH <6.x) to avoid extracting these kinds of tannins.

    Do you guys think I will be okay using these hops for a single hop brew (i.e. 60min boil), or will I end up with a beer that will make me pucker!?
     

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  10. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Hmm... no idea what a hop tea should taste like, never actually tried it. Maybe try with a hops you do know for reference?

    Thanks for sharing, great pictures!
     
  11. BrewHop

    BrewHop New Member

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    You shoud be fine, just add most of them in in the last 20 to 30min of the boil.
     
  12. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the feedback guys.
    It's definitely going to be interesting....
     
  13. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    So....I know it took forever to get around to, but yesterday I finally brewed my wild hop IPA. :)
    50g @60min
    50g @20min
    50g @5min
    ...and I still have about 25g for dry hopping.

    The hops seemed have stored quite well after drying in ziploc bags in the freezer. At least no significant loss of aroma was noticeable.
    The wort after the boil tasted quite good, though there was some indication of astringency, but not as much as I was afraid I would get.
    Keen to see how it develops during fermentation the next three weeks!
     
  14. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    That's so cool, keep us posted.
     
  15. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Not wild, but I'm using some organic Crystal hops I picked up this fall in Palisade, CO. Don't know the analysis so I'm using them for flavor. And they're working nicely as a Hallertau substitute....
     
  16. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Well...it's done. My Wild Hop Pale Ale is finally ready to drink, and um.....interesting, to say the least.
    The hops have imparted a medium level of bitterness, which is good, but the beer has an overall odd "funky" taste to it. I am not sure if the taste / aroma is coming from the hops or yeast autolysis. The weird thing is, the only time I have ever run into this taste / aroma in my beers, is when I have used certain types of hops (e.g. Nugget, Sauvin). So, I am really not sure where it is coming from....
    Otherwise, the beer turned out okay, and there aren't really any noticeable tannins. :)
     

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  17. Kaiser

    Kaiser Member

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    The pH of wort is much lower than that of water and that's what keeps the tannin extraction in check. When it comes to tannin extraction, pH is more important than temperature.

    As for the funky beer flavor, you would have to brew a side-by-side where only the hops are the difference.

    Kai
     
  18. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    The color is beautiful, and it is nice and clear.

    How long has it been in the bottle? I had an IPA that was night and day after aging in the bottle for about a month. The green taste cleared up nicely. Have you tried putting a few of the bottles in the fridge for a week and then seeing how they taste?
     
  19. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    They haven't been in the bottle long (3 weeks), so I am really hoping this will happen here as well.
    Thanks for the tip. I will stick a couple of bottles in the fridge for the next week, and do a taste comparison when I get back from vacation (3rd/4th-ish).

    Thanks for the compliments. I always add a bit of a darker caramel malt to make sure my pale ales don't turn out too pale, and it seems to have the positive side-affect of giving the beers a bit of a reddish-golden hue. The second pic is a bit of a cheat though. It caught some of the last rays of sun yesterday, which had a pretty cool flame-like effect on the photo.
    The clarity is actually even better than it appears in the pics. I can't really take any credit for it though (I don't even crash-chill my wort). It is all due to the WLP007 yeast's great flocculation. :)

    @Kai: I am (unintentionally) working on a side-by-side right now. The batch I have in the 2ndary right now has the exact same malt bill, and is also a single hop IPA, just with a completely different (brand spanking new this year!) hop variety. Should know how it turned out by the end of January.
    Edit: there is one other small (large?) difference between the two beers... I used fresh yeast for the beer currently in the 2ndary, but 2nd generation (recovered only once from a previous cake) for the wild hop ale. 2 out of every 3 of my brews are brewed using 2nd generation yeast though, with no noticeable ill effects yet, so I am assuming / hoping that the yeast isn't the cause of the "funk".
     
  20. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    So....back from vacation. (a belated "happy new years!" to all)
    I tried some of the bottles I stuck in the fridge a week ago and found them to definitely taste quite a lot less funky / yeasty.
    Assuming bottle conditioning at just under room temperature is causing the funky flavor, I guess I really need to start thinking about a fridge for storage.
     

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