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Author Topic: Grassy Homegrown Hops  (Read 2018 times)

Offline BaseWerks Brewing

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Grassy Homegrown Hops
« on: February 05, 2020, 11:00:58 am »
I'm planning to brew a pale ale with my homegrown CTZ hops this weekend.  I made a hop tea last night (room temp steep for 1 hr)  and both of the hops and the tea came out had a very grassy/cucumber aroma.  There seemed to be some good underlying citrus flavors, maybe some peach.   

I dried my hops in a dehumidifier for 10ish hours right after picking them.  I then vacuum sealed them and put them in a freezer.  They still look nice and green.  Will that grassy aroma off gas during boil?  Did I harvest the hops at the wrong time?

I was really looking forward to a brew using my homegrown hops.  I'm considering following taking "relax and have a homebrew" philosophy and letting it rip.  What are my chances that I end up dumping the whole thing?
Andy K
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Offline EHall

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2020, 12:47:46 pm »
I wouldn't sweat it, go ahead and brew it, it'll be fine.
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Offline Andy Farke

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2020, 05:09:30 pm »
That's honestly a tough call. If you went to all the work of growing/harvesting/storing, I would just give it a go and see what happens. I've found teas can be a little misleading sometimes, because they're not seen against the malt, and as you say a boil might smooth things out.

It also depends on the level of grassiness, too. I once had a (purchased) pack of Saaz that smelled like the underside of a lawnmower, and I briefly thought about not putting them into my carefully planned Bohemian pilsner. I put 'em in anyhow, and sure enough...the end beer smelled like the underside of a lawnmower! Those were genuinely grassy hops, with no redeeming qualities...I ended up dumping that batch.

So my thought is (without smelling the hops myself) that you put a ton of effort into the hops, so should give them a try. If they were purchased, I would ditch 'em (because that's a relatively cheap loss, versus homegrown hops).
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Offline spurviance

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2020, 08:52:51 am »
What did the hops smell like after you dried them out compared to purchased hops?  Did you get the grassiness only after making the tea or was it there all along?
Do you have the ability to split your brew and use your homegrown hops in a small portion?
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2020, 09:01:39 am »
What did the hops smell like after you dried them out compared to purchased hops?  ...

Whenever I smell hops I can’t tell one from another. They all smell ‘hoppy’.


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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2020, 09:39:41 am »
When you say a dehumidifier, do you mean a food dehydrator? What temperature did you dry them at?  It's possible they were overdried or dried at too high of a temperature.  That being said, I don't think a hop tea ever really tastes that great.  Since you grew em, I'd brew with them.

Offline BaseWerks Brewing

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2020, 12:02:04 pm »
When you say a dehumidifier, do you mean a food dehydrator? What temperature did you dry them at?  It's possible they were overdried or dried at too high of a temperature.  That being said, I don't think a hop tea ever really tastes that great.  Since you grew em, I'd brew with them.

Sorry, yes a food dehydrator.  I got one with adjustable temperature so I made sure to dry them at a proper temperature.  I believe it was around 95 degrees. 
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Offline Visor

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2020, 12:35:16 pm »
  Try 'em in a small batch, say 1 gallon, if they work out go for it on a full size batch, if they suck you only have to dump a gallon.
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narvin

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2020, 12:58:48 pm »
Also, I wouldn't use them for dry hopping.  I've had horrible oxidized/tea like flavors from some less than stellar leaf hops i bought in the past, but I think less of that would come through when used in the kettle.

Offline b-hoppy

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2020, 08:02:11 am »
You most likely picked them too early.  Way before they are totally ripe (sometimes a few weeks before) you can see and smell the awesomeness when you crush and rub the lupulin between the palms of your hands, but the plants push the lions share of the oils into the cones very late in the process- say the last week or so at harvest.  Depending on how early you picked them you may end up with some grassy-ness or if you picked them a little later you may boil off the 'green' but probably won't have much in the way of aroma/flavor.  Only one way to know for sure - just build your recipe figuring for the worse and hope for the best!

Offline BaseWerks Brewing

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2020, 08:53:21 pm »
A quick update.  I decided to go for it and use my homegrown hops.  The biggest issue is the bitterness in the beer.  It doesn't have as much bitterness as it needs for a pale ale.  I will adjust my alpha acid percentages down in BeerSmith accordingly for the next batch. 

It tastes pretty good otherwise.  I ended up dry hopping with 1 oz for a 5 gallon batch for a old school pale ale.  The hop aroma is what I would expect for CTZ.  There might be a hint of grassy notes but nothing like what I was worried about.  Its good beer but not a great beer.  I will make a few tweaks and turn it into a great one. 

I will have to adjust my recipe a bit going forward for lost efficiency.  The whole cone hops sure absorb a lot of liquid.
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Offline goose

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2020, 07:11:52 am »
A quick update.  I decided to go for it and use my homegrown hops.  The biggest issue is the bitterness in the beer.  It doesn't have as much bitterness as it needs for a pale ale.  I will adjust my alpha acid percentages down in BeerSmith accordingly for the next batch. 

It tastes pretty good otherwise.  I ended up dry hopping with 1 oz for a 5 gallon batch for a old school pale ale.  The hop aroma is what I would expect for CTZ.  There might be a hint of grassy notes but nothing like what I was worried about.  Its good beer but not a great beer.  I will make a few tweaks and turn it into a great one. 

I will have to adjust my recipe a bit going forward for lost efficiency.  The whole cone hops sure absorb a lot of liquid.

When using homegrown hops that have not been analyzed, you most likely need to use more than purchased varieties since you do not really know the AAU (they also change from year to year and from geographic area to geographic area).  When I use my freshly picked hops for my wet hopped IPA, I use about 5 to 6 times more by weight in the last 10 minutes of the boil to get the flavor I desire.  When dried, you can probably use less but you will still need more than commercially grown varieties that have been tested.
Full disclosure:  I have not used dried  homegrown hops for bittering additions. So you might have to experiment a bit to find the right amount and that amount, could be less or more from year to year.

There is a lot of information on this forum and on the interwebs (Google is your friend) that will tell you when to pick your hops so they don't get too grassy.  I look for the edges of the cones to be slightly brown and for the hops to have a papery feel to them.
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Offline MNWayne

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2020, 07:33:19 am »
I picked my first harvest too early.  Grassy and not a lot of flavor or bitterness.  Now I wait until they just begin to show a little brown around the edges.  Way better.
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Offline denny

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2020, 07:56:44 am »
I grew hops for 15+ years.  One of several reasons I stopped was because I just couldn't get quality equal to what I could buy.
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Offline chinaski

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Re: Grassy Homegrown Hops
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2020, 05:53:47 pm »
I picked my first harvest too early.  Grassy and not a lot of flavor or bitterness.  Now I wait until they just begin to show a little brown around the edges.  Way better.
+1- I did this also and in subsequent years became more patient and less paranoid about letting them ripen too long.  When they say that they should be "papery" at harvest that is a good recommendation.  I harvest when the green in the bracts begins to lighten, the edges start to brown a touch, the lupilin starts to darken (from pale yellow to darker yellow/orange), it sounds like play money when you rub them, and the aroma is at its peak.  You essentially have to let some go too far ripe to know when this point is.

I've got it down to being able to brew exclusively with my own hops (6-7 varieties) through hard work, patience, and paying very close attention to when to harvest, how long to dry, and packaging immediately.  As a result, I believe my hops exceed the quality that I can buy.

Keep at it!  Its worth the effort.