Author Topic: Guessing the hop variety  (Read 711 times)

Offline brewmasternpb

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Guessing the hop variety
« on: June 10, 2011, 11:00:23 PM »
HI EVERYONE,
 I have a coworker who is growing hops in his backyard.  He doesn't brew and they've been there since he moved in.  I will trade him beer for hops, but what is the best way to evaluate their flavor profile?  I don't need to know what variety they are, but I'd like a good idea of what they taste like.  I was thinking about making a hop tea to get an idea of their flavor.  Any other ideas?
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 11:03:15 PM by brewmasternpb »
Dave Malone
The Greater Denver Yeast Infection

Offline jeffy

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2011, 05:50:52 AM »
Take some in your hands and rub together until they warm up and release the aromas.  That should give you an idea of what to expect.  You know you're doing it right if you have yellow palms.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline b-hoppy

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2011, 07:27:23 AM »
The 'rub-and-sniff' test is a traditional way to get an idea of the character of any hops.  Also, the tea idea will not only give you an idea of their flavor but also help dial in the amount of bitterness they will add to a brew.  I like to do a side by side (unknown alpha hops vs. a known alpha).  Just use equal amounts of hops and water for both and you should get pretty close as long as both are dried to close to the same moisture content.

Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2011, 09:19:38 PM »
Good tips!  I saw a picture of the bines yesterday, and it's a pretty well established plant!  I can't wait!
Dave Malone
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2011, 01:37:46 AM »
Different varieties also have differently-shaped leaves and cones, so you might be able to identify hop variety by sight. For example, the more modern high alpha varieties tend to have big, long cones and slightly longer leaves while the traditional noble varieties tend to have smaller, rounder cones and shorter, broader leaves.

In addition to doing the rub and sniff test, you can also taste the hops and/or make a hop tea to get a sense of bittering potential and character.

Finally, be aware that there are male hop plants which do no bear cones (and can reduce yield of nearby female plants by making them produce seeds in addition to alpha acids), and blasphemous and evil varieties of hops which are grown for purely decorative purposes. The latter might not produce cones at all, and the cones they do produce contain little to no alpha acid. You might be un-bitterly disappointed.

I'd discreetly ask your neighbor if the hops bore cones in previous years and/or if he bought the house from a homebrewer. Be prepared to adjust your beer-trading agreement accordingly.

Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2011, 08:36:07 PM »
That's a good point.  Funny, the picture he sent me had something unfamilliar growing from the plant, could be seeds?
Dave Malone
The Greater Denver Yeast Infection

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2011, 08:52:13 PM »
That's a good point.  Funny, the picture he sent me had something unfamilliar growing from the plant, could be seeds?

the seeds grow inside the cones. If they grow at all. Each little leafy bit on the cone (Bract) hides one seed in a fertilized cone.
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Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2011, 08:03:38 PM »
Oh good, those aren't seeds then.
Dave Malone
The Greater Denver Yeast Infection

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Guessing the hop variety
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2011, 12:45:02 PM »
That's a good point.  Funny, the picture he sent me had something unfamilliar growing from the plant, could be seeds?

Can you send the picture to the list? The collective wisdom here might be able to identify the hops for you.