Inspired by the Rotter (one of the Oxford Brewgroup), I have decided to grow my own hops. Apparently they are easy to cultivate and yield a ample harvest for homebrewing purposes. And what with an allotment at my disposal, this could very well be the started of something big!
But for now, I thought I’d start small and get just four plants. The Rotter has recommended Aplus Hops to source the plants. Like rhubarb or arsparagus, you grow them from “rhizomes” – stems that grow laterally at about the soil surface and can be split to propagate the plants. Aplus split their stock into four main groups: High Alpha , Goldings, Traditional Aroma, and Dual Purpose (those that can be used for both bittering and aroma). I decided to get one from each group:
Golding hops are the classic English aroma hop developed in 1790. It is widely cultivated with a soft, earthy, vaguely farm-like aroma. Cobb is one of many varieties that are traditionally considered Goldings hops. It was selected by hand in 1881 from a group of Canterbury Whitebine hops growing in the garden of a farmer named John Cobb. Time of ripening: early/mid/late season. Sensitive to wilt, susceptible to downy mildew and powdery mildews.
Alpha acid (range) 4.4 ~ 6.7%
Beta acid (range) 1.9 ~ 2.8%
Ratio Alpha : Beta 2.1 ~ 2.6 :1
Cohumulone (% of alpha) 26 ~ 32%
Total oils, ml/100g (dry) 0.8 ~ 1.0
Target (High Alpha)
Produced at Wye College in the 70′s, Target has very good bittering qualities and a typically English flavour, making it suitable for use in all types of beer. Flavours attributed to it range from orange, to marmalade, to peppery geranium. It can also be used for dry hopping to produce a more floral aroma in stronger ales. Target has been used as a single varietal in Caledonian’s award winning Golden Promise, Usher’s Lal Toofan lager, and Hardy and Hanson’s prize winning Guzzling Goose Bitter (which uses Target both in the copper and as a dry hop). Time of ripening: late season. Highly tolerant to wilt, susceptible to downy mildew, some resistance to powdery mildew.
Alpha acid (range) 9.9 ~ 12.6%
Beta acid (range) 4.3 ~ 5.7%
Ratio Alpha : Beta 2.2 ~ 2.8 :1
Cohumulone (% of alpha) 35 ~ 39%
Total oils, ml/100g (dry) 1.2 ~ 1.4
Fuggle (Traditional Aroma)
Originally propagated in Kent in 1875 by the amusingly named Richard Fuggle. It is extremely popular in traditional English ales and is frequently used alongside Goldings, for which it forms a perfect base. It has a very low alpha acidity and yet provides length, roundness and drinkability. Fuggle is can be used in all styles of ale but brings particular richness to porters and stouts. Its characteristics have been described as easy, grassy, sensuous, moreish. It is used at the single hop in Whitbread’s Fuggles Imperial, Chiltern Brewery’s John Hampden’s Ale, George Gale’s Prize Old Ale, and McMullen’s Gladstone bitter. Time of ripening: early / mid-season. Sensitive to wilt, some resistance to downy mildew, susceptible to powdery mildew.
Alpha acid (range) 3.0 ~ 5.6%
Beta acid (range) 2.0 ~ 2.7%
Ratio Alpha : Beta 1.5 ~ 2.2 :1
Cohumulone (% of alpha) 29 ~ 30%
Total oils, ml/100g (dry) 0.7 ~ 1.1
Northern Brewer (Dual Purpose)
Bred at Wye College from Northern Brewer in 1970 by crossing with a Downy mildew resistant male. It has a very mild, clean, neutral flavour making it suitable for all styles of beer, with no harshness of palate, although the quality of bitterness it imparts can be a little harder than Challenger. The high level of oil makes this a very distinctive dry hop for full-bodied ales.
Alpha acid (range) 7.0 ~ 9.0%
Beta acid (range) 4.4 ~ 6.2%
Ratio Alpha : Beta 1.6:1
Cohumulone (% of alpha) ~ 31%
Total oils, ml/100g (dry) 1.2 ~ 2.2