As my interest in home brewing has grown, so has my curiosity about the raw ingredients that go into my beer. While it made no sense to consider planting fields of barley, I did have some curiosities about growing hops. After some research, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Northwestern Michigan climate is well suited for growing hops. I ordered six hop rhizomes and planted them in May.
While some late-Spring freezes caused some damage, I have 4 strong hop bines (not vines!) growing today, two of the Cascade variety and a pair of Centennial hops. Both varieties can be substituted in recipes calling for one or the other, but the Centennial hops have more bitterness than the Cascade, and will be used early in the brewing process, to add bitterness to the beer. The Cascade will likely be used more for flavoring and aroma, added toward the end of the brewing process.
During this first year, the hops will be building a root system, so I’ll not expect many hop flowers at harvest time. Next year I should get a decent crop. I’ve added wire fencing to the perimeter of the hop garden to keep the curious rabbits and deer away from the plants.