Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Under starters orders....

I was inspired to start brewing my own beer last year while applying for a job at St Arnolds. I have a background in microbiology so figured brewing ought to be easy. I've really enjoyed the brewing and the beer. It really is pretty easy to produce a beer that you are happy to drink. There are lots of resources online to help you that are written by people that know a lot more than I do, so I'm not going to attempt to do that here other than to say you should go and visit your local brew shop (Defalcos in my case). 

I have started my own yeast storage system (I am a microbiologist after all, more on that at a later date maybe) so the next step seemed to be growing my own hops. I am particularly partial to IPAs. Houston represents its own set of problems for growing things, in particular the humidity seems to promote rot and fungus in the worst way possible. That's where this blog comes in. Having done a quick search the only other documented attempt from Houston I found was Hops In Pots which has inspired me to document my own attempts with hops (thanks Steve). I'm hoping that others will benefit from my successes and failures. As a scientist I know all too well the value of negative results! :)

Firstly, the bed needed a LOT of weeding. I am going to have to keep an eye out for these trying to return and compete with the hops. I want to avoid using any kind of chemicals as the plan is for this to go into my beer eventually. 

Again, I'm not going to repeat what you can easily find elsewhere. My procedure for planting is just like Steves except that I have a raised bed that I'm using.  

There are a couple of cages left over from growing something else that I have left in place hoping they will help with bine growth. I planted three rhizomes (l-r): Willamette which is billed as being a stronger variety of Fuggles, Goldings (an American variety of English Kent Goldings) and Northern Brewer. The first two are planted in the middle of the cages. 

This photo shows the balcony that I'm hoping they will climb towards. When there is sufficient growth the plan is to hang some twine. Hopefully this isn't wishful thinking. I should also point out that this corner faces south east, so it should get plenty of sun but mainly in the morning when it isn't too hot.

Obviously, the big contrast between my setup here and Steve's is that his are in pots and mine are in a raised bed. My hope is that this will give the roots plenty of room to grow but runs a greater risk of rot setting in if there isn't sufficient drainage, which would be avoided with pots. Only time will tell I guess. 


  1. Excellent, I look forward to reading about your experience.

  2. Thanks for that. I have my fingers crossed that I at least get something.

  3. Really looking forward to seeing your progress.

  4. Well lets just hope there is progress then. Going to feel very disappointed if I don't get anything at all now.