Hops gone wild

Last year, a friend turned me on to a patch of wild hops growing not far from where I live. It was a little late in the year to take advantage of the intel, and so this year I was determined to take advantage of the opportunity to a) score some free hops; and b) see if they were worth using at all.

I stopped to check on them a couple of weeks ago and they were a ways off. Rain and house-guests have made it difficult for me to get back to them every few days, as was my plan, but this morning, determination won out and we made it just in time. The edges are just ready to brown.

They’re drying in the sun on a window screen as I type and I hope to experiment with them within a month or so. Wet, they smell awfully weedy, and I’m not sure they’ll be happy for anything beyond bittering, so I’ll start them in a beer that’s “dumpable.”

My plan is to brew a Scotch ale (not dumpable). I intend to run a second sparge for a made-up, hoppy beer I’ll call Hop Kirk, just because I’ve been wanting to name a beer that for a while. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Has anybody brewed with wild hops? I’d be interested to hear about your experiences…

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4 Responses to Hops gone wild

  1. Adam says:

    during the hop crisis of 2008 I got desperate and ordered a lb of hops for $10 from a tea and herb place. (apparently they use hop tea for aroma therapy or something) they said “from Germany” but no mention to variety or alpha acid. I assumed they were noble and due to their excessive browning, assumed they were 3% or less AA. anyways, I ended up adding way too much they must have been closer to 5%. it didn’t turn out bad, but my brain kept thinking brown hops. good lesson, won’t do that again, no matter how cheap. good luck with your “fresh green hops”

  2. I transplanted some wild hops that were growing at my friends cabin in Lebanon, Pa. three years ago in some good soil at my house. They produce 4x the hops I get off a commercial style like Cascade. They have a nice floral aroma when dry and by chewing on a few hops, I estimate the alpha acid to be in the range of 4 to 5%. I homebrew with them all the time with great results in many styles. I’ll use around 1.5 to 2 ounces for bittering and an ounce or two at the end of the boil.

  3. HALIFAXHOPS says:

    Wow, I grow in Halifax PA and would love to get some cuttings from you!

  4. [...] off about some wild hops growing in the ditch on a gravel road just outside Carbon, Iowa (pop. 28). This September, I went out and harvested. A couple of weeks back, I carved out a brew day, and planned a basic pale ale to test drive this [...]

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