This spring, for fun, Kirk bought twelve hops rhizomes. Only twelve, because they are fairly expensive; so it was “just to try growing hops.” Hops are currently limited from being transported across state lines, to prevent the spread of some threatening disease. So that means you can only get them from someone who grows them in your state. In Washington, there are only a few growers, so thus, the price is fairly high, I think we paid around $7 for each tiny root bit.

The vines grew like kudzu all summer, loving our fertile valley soil and hot sun, and we were curious to see what would result.

They make an attractive ornamental plant, if nothing else. We didn’t really know what to expect, and were too busy to read up on the end product. We figured they’d be like fruit trees- maybe in five or ten years, you get a respectable crop. We joked, maybe we’ll get enough to make a pint of beer this year!

WeighingHopsWe just finished harvesting the little green flowers. And harvesting, and harvesting. Picking them is tedious, the vines are scratchy, and they leave a sticky residue that irritates the skin. A good-sized bowl of dried hops weighs about an once. We’ve vacuum packed and frozen about nineteen ounces. One ounce of hops can make five gallons of beer. Jinkies! That’s a lot of beer. 😀 And this is only the first year for our vines.

Hops sell for about $20/lb in the brewing store: well worth paying someone else who owns harvesting equipment to deal with the tangle-ey vines. But if not for cost savings, it’s fun growing your own anyway. And then there is the cost of the beer making stuff, which Kirk had to buy, of course, so that we can get started making our 95 gallons of beer. 😛 I won’t say how much I think we spend on Hefeweizen annually; but I’d say the equipment and rhizomes will pay for themselves in short order. I imagine if the beer’s any good, we’ll have plenty to share with friends. Bottoms-up!