Monday, June 6, 2011

Pleasant Surprise: Mystery Hop

For those out there that may have noticed, I've been a bit quiet while Tom has been doing the heaving lifting here at Lug Wrench for the past four to six months.  The main driver behind the reduction in participation is that the family and I purchased a new home back in April and have been moving, organizing, updating, and just about everything else you do when you get into a new house - but unfortunately not brewing or blogging.  My apologies.

With the new house, however, comes new surprises.  The new house is that it is a lot bigger and it has a lot more land than our prior residence.  And with the land comes a lot more trees, shrubs, and, well...nature.  I'm still finding new plantings around the property, but the other day I happened upon a surprise that tickled the homebrew in me.  Down at the foot of driveway, bordering between our property and the neighboring farm, I thought I saw a hop leaf amongth the overgrowth.  Clearing out the underbrush, sure enough, a mature hop plant was uncovered - or at least I am 90% sure it is a hop plant.  It has the leaf and bine structure are almost obvious to anyone who has grown or been around hop plants.  So I'm (hopefully) correct - you be the judge....

View of the overgrowth from a far...

Close up of the leaves and bines...

So I am pretty stoked if it turns out to be a new hop plant - I've already placed a stake in the ground and run some twine from the stake to the top of the wooden post that can be seen in the first image.  The real mystery (other than what varietal this plant is) will be whether the plant can produce cones or not (i.e. is it a male or female plant).  Just playing the odds, it is most likely female as there are few male plants in circulation.  But only time will tell.  And how did it get there?  Who knows.  My only guess is that someone must have purchased this plant at some point and planted it and had no idea how to care for it.  

Ultimately, my plan is to waitit out and let the bines grow skyward through the summer and hope some cones materialize (fingers crossed).  If not, then I just leave the plant as is let it do its thing.  But if it does produce cones, that's when the real fun begins - attempting to determine the varietal.

I'll report back later in the summer after the growth has progressed.  In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions or watch-outs as I investigate this little horticultural surprise, please leave a comment.



"A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure."
-Czech Proverb


  1. Yeah, that's hops

  2. Nice find! I wonder if you've had any ideas yet on how you'll go about trying to identify it?

  3. Cory, it is going to be a challenge, but I think that's part of the fun. Initially, the aroma of cones should get us at least in the appropriate ballpark. From there, it might just have to be brewing a single hop pale ale and getting a lot people with better palletes than I have and try to narrow in on it.

    Either way, it should be a lot of fun trying to figure it out. That is only if cones do show up...

    Thanks for the comment!



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