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Tips for homegrown hop usage?

I just harvested and dried my first hop crop this year and was wondering what tips people have on using homegrown hops. I have heard some people say that bittering additions are more difficult because of the lower AA’s. I have also heard that you should add 10% more hops in your recipes to make up for the decrease potency. Is any of this true? Is there anything else I should account for? I grew brewers gold and cascade this year if anyone has tips on those. Thanks

I’ve read that whole hops should be used 5X pellet hops by weight (ie, 1 oz of pellet is roughly 5 oz of whole). You could brew two identical simple smaller batch recipes, one using pellets of the same variety and one using 5X the whole homegrown hops to compare them and adjust accordingly. I’m a brewing noob tho so I’d be interested in what some of the more experienced brewers have to say. I’m going to try to grow some next year from some rhizomes a friend is going to give me.

The 5x figure is wet hops versus dried not pellet versus whole.

Wet hops weigh 5 times as much as dried hops. This is all water weight. So you need to use one or the other, otherwise you won’t have any idea how much to use.

In my experience, the alpha acid on homegrown hops tends to be higher than what you can buy at the store. I believe this is due to freshness and the ability to harvest at peak maturity. For instance, my homegrown Hallertau hops will often have 7% alpha acids. My Cascades tend to be closer to average but still a little high around 7%. This is based on experimentation. I use my homegrown hops for bittering as well as flavor and aroma. What I do to figure out alpha acid is use half commercial hops for bittering, and half homegrown, take a guess as to what the alpha acid of the homegrowns might be, and use software to figure out the IBUs. Since there is some known alpha acid from the commercial hops, the bitterness won’t be too far off, but you can use the resulting beer to figure out if it turned out more or less bitter than you expected. Then next time you brew, adjust the alpha acid estimate accordingly. After 2 or 3 batches, you will be able to figure out approximately how much alpha acids you’ve got, within like 0.2%. Works great.

Thanks for the replies. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to reach AA levels of store bought hops. Good to know. Now if I could only grow some simco I’d be set.

Not gonna happen any time soon. Simcoe, amarillo and several others are not released as rhizomes to the general public.

My club had some (limited) alpha acid testing done on 3 varieties of homegrown hops a few years back & found lower %AA than commercial equivalents in the three varieties we were working with. This is in Vermont & we are fortunate enough to have some university research data on hop growing in our area to compare to. Alpha acid content was similar to their more rigorous data set. I have been using their results when estimating %alpha in my recipes and also use commercial hops or hopshots to do my bittering additions. Seems to work well.

Relating to the two batch idea- Zymurgy published an article back in the 90s suggesting that you could estimate bittering potential by comparing hop teas made with homegrown and commercially grown hops (of known &AA) and using sugar to try and balance the bitterness. The ratio of sugar used between teas should reflect ratio of %AA- so the article asserted.

My club did a fairly rigorous test of the idea- used the method to estimate bitterness of 3 varieties, then sent samples of the homegrown off for lab analysis for a true measure. Our results show that this method doesn’t do a good job for estimating %AA.

Since then, I’ve thought about some other taste-based (cheap) method for estimating %AA, but haven’t gone very far. I have increased my practice of tasting wort of various OG and estimated %AA to try and calibrate my palate.

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