Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The dead of winter

Thought I would sneak in one more post for this year. Hope everyone has had an excellent Christmas. I also wanted to show just how dormant hops become over the winter. The weather has been pretty dreich recently which has done a very good job of finishing off any of the the above ground growth. I took some pics about a month ago and today for comparison. Here's the Columbus:

The before and after are from different angles but it should be very clear just how little life there is here. I'm hoping that sufficient life has been stored in the roots for spring. Only time will tell.

The same can be seen with the Cascade:

All of the greenery has gone now. Although the Cascade had shown some signs of recovery from the move they were not exactly overwhelming. I'm still hopeful that I will see it again in a few months time.

The Willamette is the plant I'm most worried about. There was very little evidence of regrowth following the move. It has also suffered from having its space being taken over by a random tomato plant:

The tomato has gone the same way as the hops as a consequence of the cold. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that the hops are better at regrowing after the cold than the tomato. Given its perilous state I am seriously considering buying another rhizome or two for the coming year. In part to replace the Galena which met such a sad violent end. I intentionally left a space between the Columbus and the Cascade (where the Galena had been) when I moved them with a mind to adding another rhizome next year. How well it might do in between two established plants will be interesting to see. The stress of the move might be sufficient to put a new plant on an even footing. With any luck they will all start growing again before rhizomes become available for online ordering from Austin Homebrew so I can decide whether I really need to order more and if so how many.

Overall, this year has had its ups and downs. The hops were clearly not happy about being moved, even if it was only down the road. There were sufficient signs of recovery (particularly from the Columbus) that I'm hopeful that I'll see them again in 2014. On the positive side, this happened:

This is the first time I have managed to produce a beer with some of my own, home-grown hops. For me this is what it's all about, there really isn't anything quite like the flavour of fresh hops in beer. I've noticed a couple of breweries this year have also made beers with fresh hops available, namely Deschutes' Hop Trip and this year's Sierra Nevada Celebration. The downside to using fresh hops is that they're only available for a limited period. I'll just have to stick to pellets for the rest of the year. It does mean that there is good reason for looking forward to Autumn/Winter beers though, particularly if you've made them yourself with your own hops!
Have a great Hogmanay.

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