Its been a while since I’ve updated the internet on my hop growing endeavor and at first that was because I had given up on it. The saaz plant very quickly became overwhelmed by spider mites and it wasn’t long before most of the leaves were crispy and brown. I tried everything I could but I think it was just too late. So a few weeks after my last update I chopped down my saaz plant and moved my chinook plant to another area of my patio.
While I kept up with watering the chinook, I was kind of resigned to the idea that if the saaz didn’t survive, this one was going to go the same route. Luckily for me however, leaving the chinook plant in its new spot was exactly what it needed and within a few weeks there was so much new growth on the vine that I had to attach 3 more piece of twine. These new strings were attached directly to the fence rather than my wooden trellis, which allowed the plant more room to grow.
I stuck with watering and watched over the next month as tons of new buds started appearing and as of right now its looking like I’m actually going to get a harvest of chinook cones that will be suitable for homebrewing.
The saaz cones that developed early on were very low in lupulin content and ultimately the buds just smelled of weak tea, but already the chinook nuggets have a nice pine & citrus aroma, that will only increase as the buds grow. There’s a few large buds already that are about 2 – 2.5 inches long, and there is an huge amount of blooms that are starting to transition.
This turn of events has taught me a few things. First of all, I likely planted my crowns a little early in the year. California weather is so good that they didn’t ease into any growth, the rocketed out of the ground and started to bloom way too early. Second, its likely that saaz are just not meant for Southern California climate. They are a czech hop and its pretty clear they just couldn’t stand up to the heat or the bugs in this environment. If I do this again, I’ll definitely focus on American hops that are known for being quite resilient.
But the best part is that I can continue to see them grow and potentially brew with some fresh hops off the vine. I’m thinking of making a fresh hop pale ale of some kind, something that’s got a pretty light hop bill. Its not likely these cones will be ready until mid September, so I definitely have some time.