Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hops in my 'Hood

Hops, the ingredient that provides the delicious bitterness in beer, are generally grown intentionally. Commercially grown in large fields, planted on the patios of breweries to provide visual interest (and even shade once they really get established) and by home brewers with enough motivation to provide a nice climbing structure so there will be enough cones to harvest and use. Come harvest time, down come the bines and that’s usually the last we see of them until they become part of a beer.

About that time, harvest time, I happened to realize, after months of walking by the same spot again and again, that there was a patch of “abandoned” hops doing their thing on the street side of a fenced yard and continuing their thing up a nearby utility pole. After that I’d look for them each time I went by, interested to see if anyone would claim/harvest them. One day, when it was clear they were indeed abandoned, I picked a couple, relishing the fresh hop aroma.

Now that it’s winter they’re easier to see, as they’ve gone brown, contrasting with the other weedy vines they’re cohabitating with. And while it’s too bad they never found their way into a brew kettle, it’ll give me something to look for on that corner when spring comes, when they’re still in stealthy, svelte, vine-only mode.

I’ll also be keeping my eye on this patch of what I’ve dubbed “neglected” hops. They can’t really be called “abandoned” since whoever lives in this house must see them from time to time, even though it’s clear they weren’t interested in using them.

Do you have any abandoned or neglected hops hanging out in your area?

1 comment:

  1. I wish-although Greg's coworker has a stash somewhere in the county. Love breathing those babies in!